Madison Community House

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In the 11 years since I became a Madison parent (I still can't believe my son turns 11 this month!), I have spent countless hours at the Madison Community House at 25 Cook Ave. My daughter has practiced musical theater and performed on the stage, attended Brownie meetings, taken cooking classes, done summer preschool camps, and gone to several birthday parties there. My son's Cub Scout meetings, Pinewood Derby races, soccer clinics, and science summer camps have all been held there. And I have attended my monthly Girl Scout leader meetings, rented out space to help host children's Hanukkah celebrations, donated clothes to Dress for Success, and enjoyed the craft fairs each November.

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So, when on Wednesday, January 25, 2017, the Madison Area Parents Facebook page exploded with reports of a fire at the Madison Community House, my heart leapt. I knew I wasn't the only one who saw the Madison Community House as the nucleus of our community. People of every age use it and rely on it. The nursery school and Dress for Success are both housed there. Summer camps, after-school enrichment classes, children's Japanese lessons, mahjong tournaments, dance and exercise classes, book clubs, knitting circles, lectures, and luncheons all take place there. Over the years, MCH has definitely lived up to its name as a "community" house. How would our little town of about 16,000 (in addition to all those from surrounding communities who use it) be able to offer the wide variety of family-friendly and culturally-rich events and services without this amazing resource?

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The Madison Community House has several meeting rooms, a kitchen, and a gym with a stage, that can be rented out to the public.

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Fortunately, the two-alarm fire was contained to the third floor apartments, and was extinguished relatively quickly, thanks to the hard work from the fire department. This floor is uninhabitable now. The older section of MCH, which was built in 1924, did sustain a lot of smoke and water damage that needs to be repaired, though. Thankfully, the newer Rose Wing with the gym and the nursery school, which was built more than 50 years ago, was able to reopen just a few days later, after the electrical and fire alarms were all checked.

The day after the fire, I slightly altered my route home so I could see the damage for myself. The front door was open. Though I didn't want to get in the way, I did want to see if I could spread the word and see how community members could help. I found Janet Allocco, the ever-present and always-caring Community House Director, in her office. I offered to post the donation link on a few of the local Madison parent Facebook pages. She put me in touch with Karen Jeisi, Thursday Morning Club President, and Suzanne Caccavale, Business Manager for the Thursday Morning Club and Madison Community House, who were busy figuring out the next steps to take to help get the facility back up and running. (The Thursday Morning Club is the social non-profit women's organization that helps maintain the MCH.) They welcomed the post with the link, and, thankfully, I have seen many other articles on the fire that also contain a link to donate. I know that the Madison community will rally to help get our precious and vital MCH back up and running to its full potential.

To make a donation to help the Madison Community House restoration, visit the Thursday Morning Club's Web site at www.thursdaymorningclub.org

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