For many, the Viola Blythe Community Center is their everyday hero.
Located off Ash Street, the small nonprofit organization serves hundreds of families by providing emergency social services, such as providing food and clothing.
And on Thursday the center will be named Newark’s Local Hero at the 7th annual State of the 20th Assembly District Address and Awards Ceremony.
Hosted by Assemblyman Bob Wieckowski, the annual event highlights a hero from each town within the 20th assembly district. Next year, Wieckowski plans to rename it for his new region – District 25.
Viola Blythe Executive Director Debbie Caravalho, who is also the daughter of the center’s founder, expressed excitement about being recognized by Wieckowski .
“It’s amazing to be recognized at that high of a level ,” Caravalho said. “That’s an honor for us.”
The history of the Viola Blythe Center dates back to the 1950s, when Viola Blythe, Caravalho’s mother, dedicated much of her time helping people in need by providing them with emergency services. Much of the services were operated from Blythe’s own garage, according to violablythe.org.
The center moved into its current building at Ash Street Park in 1989 and now serves thousands of people every year, according to its website. Viola Blythe Center also holds various holiday programs, such as Adopt A Family and a Children’s Christmas Party.
Last year, the center served nearly 11,000 people, said Caravalho, all while dealing with a higher demand for help due to the economy, she said.
“We do what we can, and I think we do a good job,” Caravalho said.
The 7th annual State of the 20th Assembly District Address and Awards Ceremony will be held at 6 p.m. on Thursday at Boehringer Ingelheim, Inc., 6701 Kaiser Drive. The event is free to attend, but people who would like to attend must call 510-440-9030 to reserve a ticket.
For more information about the Viola Blythe Community Center, visit www.violablythe.org.