There is new life in the East Akron Community House building, which for decades served as the hub of social, economic and educational assistance for a struggling neighborhood.

Good Samaritan Hunger Center is serving up hot meals on Mondays.

Project Learn is offering GED instruction on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

And the new owner, East Akron Neighborhood Development Corp. (EANDC), is providing homebuyer assistance and emergency home-repair help five days a week.

And more programs will be starting after the first of the year in the former EACH building, located at 500 S. Arlington St.

The restarting of services is a high note in what has otherwise been a tumultuous two years for EACH, which for 100 years has served the people of East Akron. EANDC bought the building in June to serve as the headquarters for the community-development agency, as well as other local service providers.

“We are back home again,” said Grady Appleton, president and CEO of EANDC, which originally started as an offshoot of EACH and was housed in the building. “I have a lot to be thankful for.”

EANDC moved out of the EACH building two years ago when its parent agency began a downward financial spiral and faced the possibility of foreclosure. EANDC purchased the building for $675,000, preventing foreclosure, took possession in September and immediately began repairs inside and outside.

The renovations totaled $175,000, and included HVAC upgrades, painting, carpet replacement, parking lot improvements and a new security system. EANDC raised $160,000 to cover the cost, with the United Way and NeighborWorks America among the agencies that contributed.

EANDC, which had been working out of two locations, moved all of its services, offices and 45 employees to the renovated building.

On a recent morning, a Project Learn instructor provided GED instruction to two adult students, with the morning’s lesson focused on geography.

Juli Adair, who has been a Project Learn instructor for seven years and previously worked in the EACH building, is pleased to be back. The agency plans to add evening classes starting in January.

“The building looks wonderful,” she said. “We’re so glad we’re back.”

Tanzy Stembridge, 26, of Akron, a Project Learn student, said the building is a convenient location for her.

“I think our community needs something like this,” she said.

A gymnasium, currently used for storage, will be cleaned soon and could be opened for fitness programs for staff and local seniors, as well as basketball and open-gym for area youths.

Akron Summit Community Action will take an office in January, offering Head Start screening and Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) appointments.

Akron General Medical Center also plans to open a health clinic after the first of the year, focusing on medical care for low-income families.

Kyle Julien, EANDC’s director of urban planning, and Susan Schweitzer, the agency’s spokeswoman, are pleased the agency has returned to the heart of the neighborhood it serves.

“We’re in the hub,” Schweitzer said. “We’re the center.”

Julien said he wants to look into partnerships with other area entities.

EANDC has applied for a Knight Arts Challenge grant to develop a grassy area into a public gathering place for events such as farmers markets. (The side of the building by the property features a mural of late East Akron activist Art Minson.) Julien said this type of space is lacking in East Akron.

A few community meetings have been held in the building and Akron police Chief James Nice will have a Coffee with the Chief event there Friday.

Schweitzer said several community groups have requested to hold meetings in the building, but EANDC is trying to take the programming slow and monitor employee expenses.

“We don’t want to submerge ourselves and get into issues with staffing,” she said. “We need to be conservative with our funding and conscious of how we are spending it.”

Some community activists in East Akron, though, are frustrated the building hasn’t been opened up more to local groups.

“We need a nice place to meet,” said Willie Smith, who formerly headed the United Citizens Block Club, a collection of East Akron groups, and is now involved with a new group, Citizens Local Government Task Force.

EANDC staff members are trying to envision new possibilities for East Akron with a “Wall of Dreams” that features colorful Post-It notes with staff members’ ideas. The suggestions include a pool, sit-down restaurant, a coffee shop, child care, check cashing, goat rental (for yard maintenance) and a food forest, which is a public orchard where people can pick food and take it with them. When ideas become reality, they are moved to a “Dreams Achieved” section that so far has only a couple of Post-Its, including buying the EACH building.

“No matter how silly or how big, it goes up here,” Schweitzer said of the dreams wall. “We think big. If we can do it, great!”

Stephanie Warsmith can be reached at 330-996-3705, swarsmith@thebeaconjournal.com or on Twitter: @swarsmithabj.