Human Services Department aims to foster sense of community

From organizing senior yoga classes to the Village Holiday Promenade to the Special Olympics Host Town activities, the Claremont Human Services department does it all.

However, when so many projects fall under one umbrella, it becomes difficult for the public—and even some members of city staff—to recognize just who’s responsible for what. And while the Claremont Human Services department worked tirelessly to maintain the city’s vibrant civic-minded identity, the department began to suffer its own identity crisis.

“When I came on board in May 2014, we had just finished the budget workshop and it came out that nobody knew who human services was,” says Human Services Director Anne Turner. “Nobody knew that Fourth of July, the youth programs, the senior programs were all from human services. People thought they were all independent departments amongst themselves and that was a problem.”

To clear up some of the confusion, Ms. Turner launched a tagline contest among city staff last year with the intent of rebranding the Human Services Department. The result of which will be revealed on Tuesday, March 17, during an open house from 5 to 6:30 p.m. at the Alexander Hughes Community Center.

In addition, the event will offer light refreshments and free giveaways as well as a meet-and-greet with program staff and instructors who will provide hands-on demonstrations.

“We have a lot of people who really want to participate in our programs, but are unsure of what we offer,” explains Ms. Turner. “We’ll have some rooms set up with a variety of instructors so they’ll get a chance to see what we do here.”

Guests can also pick up a discount coupon at the Hughes Center, valid for $8 off a variety of programs offered by the city and enter into a coloring contest.

“You can color the image on the back and then write about your favorite Claremont memory,” Ms. Turner explains. “We’ll put those up throughout the Hughes Center and people can win prizes.”

Three elements—People, Parks and Programs—not only encapsulate the focus of Claremont Human Services, it’s also the department’s motto and logo.

“Bevin Handel, Jason Lass and Melissa Vollaro all worked together to develop this logo and we really love the color scheme,” Ms. Turner says of the chosen blue, orange and green shades. “The blue represents our shirts, the orange is a color we’ve previously used throughout and the green represents the trees and parks.”

Through a variety of innovative community events, leisure activities and social services, the Human Services Department strives to maintain and enhance the quality of life in the Claremont community by promoting civic involvement. The city has been recognized on both the national and state level for the excellent programs provided to its residents.

“We are the frontline to the people,” says Ms. Turner. “We do all the stuff with the parks to make sure they are a place people want to be. We have our programs, which are vast, from contract classes to human interest, all the way down to youth programs, senior programs and special event programming. We are that arching place that really speaks to quality of life here in Claremont.”

At least one Claremont resident recognizes the value of Claremont Human Services. Ms. Turner received a handwritten letter from a resident appreciative of the service provided by staff.

“I just want to tell you how amazing your staff is,” the resident wrote. “I came in with my son and his computer broke at home and I asked your front-counter staff if they could help us.”

Hughes Center staff not only provided a workspace for the student but went above and beyond.

“He was freaking out. The staff was so supportive. They sat with us and made sure it was right. He was able to turn in that report the next day, it made all the difference in the world to us. That’s why I love to live in a city like Claremont.”

For Ms. Turner, it’s these kinds of exchanges with residents that make her job worthwhile.

“When you get something like that,” says Ms. Turner, “You say to yourself, ‘That’s what we do, that’s what we’re about.’ And that’s why we need to let people know what we do.”

The Hughes Center is located at 1700 Danbury Rd., Claremont. For information, call (909) 399-5490.

—Angela Bailey


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