CU in the Community: Positivity Bench Provides Safe Space at Legacy CenterOctober 09, 2023
By Brandon Kathman
MIDLAND - I joined representatives from the Tri-Cities Chapter of The Links Inc. as they unveiled a hand-painted “Positivity Bench” at the Legacy Center for Community Success on Oct. 9, CUKind Day. This is the second in a series of installations in the Great Lakes Bay Region that they have dubbed the Neighborhood Bench Project.
“When a person sits on one of our Positivity benches, they invite new relationships, a signal for assistance, a time to chat, or find a space to self-reflect, meditate, or quiet time to read,” The Links shared.
The bench is bright, cheerful, and inviting, emblazoned with positive messages of affirmation. It charges a viewer to “own your story” and “love yourself.” The bench is more than art with purpose, as it was described by a local publication; it is art with utility. I share in The Links’ belief that placing the Positivity Bench at the Legacy Center's new headquarters on Abbott Road will have a significant impact on friendship, kindness, and self-care throughout the neighboring community.
Professionally and as a volunteer, I have worked with hundreds of youths in the aftermath of COVID-19. The socialization deficit is alarming, especially in urban and suburban communities. Young people can struggle with teamwork after years of remote learning and solo play. It is my sincere hope that youth who see and use the bench will be inspired not only to “own” their stories, ideas, and aspirations, but to share them with one another.
Sponsored by Dow Credit Union, the initiative was also funded through a grant from the Michigan Art & Culture Council. I must also wholeheartedly commend the artistry and craftsmanship of the designers with Parker Lane Art & Design Studio (@parkerlane.art), along with Creative 360 (becreative360.org).
The Links is one of the nation’s most prolific civic groups, comprised of dedicated women working to promote and ensure the welfare of African Americans and those of African descent. Its Tri-Cities Chapter serves the community through educational, civic, and inter-cultural activities.
“I feel blessed and fortunate to meet people from around the region who have committed themselves to making the community better,” Links President Algeria Morris-Sowah told us during the dedication ceremony. “I’m a mom who raised her kids without family... so community was very important to me. As a mom, seeing something like the bench would help me feel all the more comfortable.”
Our credit union is likewise a proud partner of The Legacy Center for Community Success, which provides after-school tutoring for young people in Midland County. Their nonprofit also champions community-based youth substance use prevention, working to foster positive norms for young people. Having observed their work for some time, I know the Legacy Center not only accomplishes wonderful achievements within its walls; it inspires greatness in other youth-serving nonprofits across the Great Lakes Bay Region.
“A bench that’s going to remind them that they’re enough, that they’ve got this, what a better fit than to be here?” Kathryn Tate, executive director of the Legacy Center, said.