By Marnie McAllister, Record Assistant Editor
Community Catholic Center (CCC), at 25th and Slevin Streets in Portland, made Catholic education accessible to 48 students living in Portland and West Louisville this year.
Among them is Ambra Goff, a senior at Holy Cross High School. Ambra plans to attend Bellarmine University in the fall and hopes to earn a full scholarship.
Community Catholic Center “has helped me set goals about what I want to do in my life,” Ambra said during a phone interview May 5. “Without their help I wouldn’t have been able to go to a Catholic high school.”
Ambra has excelled in Catholic high school — she’s on the student council, plays soccer and was inducted into the National Honor Society last year. She’s waiting now to hear if she will receive the scholarship to Bellarmine.
A crowd of about 125 people listened to her story during an annual fundraiser for CCC in late April. This year’s event, held at the home of Joe and Kelly Landenwich, was the center’s most successful — yielding more than $108,000.
“She did a great job and connected a lot of dots for people,” Joe Landenwich said of Ambra.
“My wife and myself are both products of Catholic education and believe in the benefits of Catholic education,” said Joe Landenwich, a member of St. Agnes Church. “We want to provide that opportunity to children in Portland and the West End. We think Community Catholic does a great job of providing an education for those kids and a bright future.”
Community Catholic Center opened in 2003 after Community Catholic School in Portland closed. The latter was the last Catholic school in West Louisville and the center was formed to help students attend and succeed at other Catholic schools.
It provides tutoring assistance twice a week, two monthly family gatherings to promote a sense of community among its 30 families and a part-time social worker to address any issues that arise at home.
The center’s students attend four Catholic grade schools — Notre Dame Academy, St. James and St. Leonard schools in Louisville and St. Anthony of Padua School in Clarksville, Ind. CCC students currently attend three high schools — Holy Cross and Trinity high schools and Presentation Academy.
Their tuition is paid by a combination of assistance from Community Catholic Center, the Catholic Education Foundation, the students’ schools and Angela Mason Scholarships, plus affordable payments from CCC families.
The funds raised at the Landenwich’s event will cover more than a third of the center’s annual budget.
“That’s a big deal,” said Heidi Hamilton, the center’s part-time executive director.
She explained that the center has held the annual fund raiser for three years now — the first year it raised about $70,000 and the second year it raised about $63,000.
“It was a big deal when we were looking at $70,000,” she said. “To raise this much money allows us to look forward to serving more kids because we know there are more families here” in need of assistance.
The center is funded entirely by donations. The remainder of its $280,000 budget comes from private donors, such as donations from families and individuals, grants from the Ursuline Sisters of Louisville and the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth, and smaller fund raisers conducted by Good Shepherd Church and CCC parents.
Good Shepherd Church in Portland, which was formed by the closing of the Portland area churches of St. Cecilia, St. Anthony and Our Lady, has long supported Community Catholic Center. The center is located at Good Shepherd’s St. Cecilia campus.