Community outreach center serves children, families of Huntington


The Ebenezer Community Outreach Center, Inc. has been specializing in childcare and family needs in the Huntington community since 1984 when it stemmed from the United Methodist Church as a state-funded facility.

Executive Director Celes L. Sheffield said ECOC’s main goal is to give back to the community and teach children to do the same.

“Pretty much everything we do is free for the community,” Sheffield said.

The center provides childcare, an afterschool program, a baby bassinette program, school supply program, free clothing closet and a family enrichment center. Those at the center also work to address local issues of literacy, racism, and economics.

However, Sheffield said she would like to do even more for the community.

“I’d like to maybe do a computer lab, but we can’t do that right now,” Sheffield said. “That’s one of my goals.”

Sheffield said volunteer work is always welcome, and anyone who wants to share a special skill or activity with the children can do so at any time.

“Money is always good, but time is better,” Sheffield said. “Warm bodies for kids, people to come and interact with them, new faces to show the kids that there’s somebody out there that cares about them.”

Sheffield said volunteers are needed to help during field trips with the children by chaperoning.

Administrative Assistant Sheryl Bacon has worked at ECOC for 12 years and said she strongly recommends coming and interacting with the kids.

“Each child has their own little personality,” Bacon said.

Sheffield said it is important to invest time in working with the children now, so they can be successful later in life.

“This is our future,” Sheffield said.  “If we don’t take the time to invest in our future now, then we can’t complain later.”

Sheffield said ECOC strives to teach kids at an early age the value of getting a quality education and staying in school.

“We want to see them graduate, of course,” Sheffield said. “Any of them that want to go on to higher education, that’s great. We just want them to be positive role models for their community and give back to their community that they grew up in.”

Sheffield said she hopes the children at ECOC grow up to be productive citizens.

“I’ve got kids in college now that have basketball and athletic scholarships,” Sheffield said. “I have some that are parents now, so that’s rewarding. I just want to see them succeed in life and be positive role models.”

Sheffield said she hopes to one day add on to the building, which now houses over 60 children every day, and to expand their resources, possibly adding 21st-century classrooms.

“Just to know we’ve been a positive force in their life, that’s rewarding,” Sheffield said.

ECOC is open 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Hanna Pennington can be contacted at [email protected].