By Jim Davis
Every now and then, someone will ask me why I choose to volunteer for the Life Enrichment Center. There are several ways I can answer that question, but the way I do it most often is to talk about my grandparents’ house on North Quentin Avenue.
North Quentin Avenue is a quiet side street that intersects East Third Street two blocks shy of the hilltop where it turns into Airway Road. When I was growing up in the ‘60s, the street was lined with trees that gave it a relaxing, shaded appearance. Those trees were filled with squirrels, who traveled around the neighborhood by jumping from tree to tree like Rocky the Flying Squirrel. There was a park with tennis courts and a hill that was perfect for sledding. At the bottom of the Third Street hill was an ice cream stand that sold soft-serve cones and milkshakes. Joe’s Pizza was in walking distance or, if you wanted something a bit nicer, the Stockyards restaurant was only a couple of miles away.
My grandparents’ house was a two-story home with a basement. It sat on a corner lot that offered easy access to the park. It had a wide front porch, where we could sit and talk and feed peanuts to the squirrels. And it sat high enough up on the hill that the windows at the rear of the house offered an unobstructed view all the way down Third Street to downtown Dayton. The view was especially good at Christmas, when we could see the star that graced the roof of one of the downtown department stores.
The neighborhood wasn’t wealthy, but the people who lived there seemed to be well-off. My grandfather, for example, was quite proud that he owned a Lincoln Continental. It was a nice neighborhood full of nice people and I enjoyed my visits there.
Unfortunately, the 1960s were half a century ago. A lot has changed in the last 50+ plus years and not all of it has been for the better. My grandparents’ old house still sits on North Quentin Avenue, but most of the trees that I loved so much are gone. Gone, too, are the ice cream stand and the Stockyards restaurant. Other businesses have also left the area. The zip code for the area – 45403 – is the second-poorest zip code in the Dayton area. The median income for households in that part of the city is $27,381 ,  which is just under the federal poverty guideline of $27,750 for a family of four . 
The changes to my grandparents’ old neighborhood saddened me, but I didn’t think there was much that I could do about it. Then some friends introduced me to the Life Enrichment Center. Their mission – to transform the lives of people and the communities in which they live – resonated perfectly with me. Maybe I couldn’t restore the area to its former glory, but perhaps I could help make life better for the people who lived there. And so I agreed to volunteer, first by working in the choice pantry and now by being a part of the marketing committee.
This is now my fourth year of working with the LEC. One thing I’ve learned from the experience is that change won’t happen on its own. Someone has to take the first step and set the ball rolling. I’m hoping that the steps I’ve taken since I’ve been here will help make a positive change in someone’s life.
Because it’s true that everyone has value and I believe that as Christians we are called to help others realize that value.
THIS IS THE LIFE ENRICHMENT CENTER
“Because Everyone Has Value”
Jim Davis has been a volunteer with the Life Enrichment Center since 2019. His grandparents lived in East Dayton and he has many fond memories of what the area was like when he was growing up.