Campora Family Resource Center Is a One-Stop Shop for Hope, Generosity, and Change.

by | Feb 2024

HISTORY WHISPERS through the halls of the old Townsend School, now the heart of transformation at Campora Family Resource Center. Its time-honored history touches the lives of children and families around the community. Eric Vanzant, the passionate director of the center, has a journey intertwined with the evolution of this valuable organization.

Campora traces its roots back to 1993 when family resource centers sprouted across the state. Vanzant, driven to dismantle barriers that hinder academic success, worked on the Townsend Intervention Project grant. The project, named after the historic school’s location, focused on building self-esteem in children from kindergarten to third grade, journeying with them through exposure to various experiences and family-centric events.

The old Townsend School, once segregated, holds a significant place in Vanzant’s life, with his parents graduating from its halls. Over the years, the building transformed from a school for black students to a kindergarten and, later, a multipurpose facility. The legacy of the Townsend School breathes life into the programs that Vanzant now spearheads. 

Vanzant’s journey at Campora has been dynamic. Vanzant departed in 1998 to explore new horizons at Centerstone, a nonprofit organization focused on mental health and substance use disorder treatments for all ages. 

“When I left in ‘98, it was a move of God,” Vanzant said, reflecting on his journey. 

He returned in 2004 with newfound knowledge and experiences. His mission was to instill hope, inspire success, and empower children to rise above their circumstances. He returned to the Campora Family Resource Center, driven by a divine calling to reduce barriers hindering academic success. 

In his current role, Vanzant wears many hats. From launching anger management classes to leading parenting workshops, he is a constant presence in local schools, engaging with students on issues beyond academics. His unique approach involves asking young minds, “What do you not want to become?” A simple question ignites conversations about aspirations, fears, and the power of choices. 

A standout initiative is the “Men of Distinction” life skills program for teenage boys. Through this program, Vanzant imparts valuable lessons about becoming men of character, impressing the connection between choices, habits, and lifestyles upon them. 

Last year, he orchestrated a transformative experience for these young boys, introducing them to the power of wearing a suit. With the community’s support, he provided suits, shirts, and ties, giving the boys a boost of confidence.

“We did a field trip, and we went to D&K Suits. They got to go in and pick their shirts and ties, and we taught them how to tie a tie. Their whole swag changed. They came out posing and so forth. It was really cool to see that.” 

Campora’s impact goes beyond academic support. The center operates a food pantry, ensuring families have access to essentials. Every Thursday, the doors open, welcoming those in need. The Christmas Angel program takes center stage during the holiday season, providing clothing for children ages birth to 18. The community’s generosity, from churches to individuals, ensures no child is left without a Christmas gift.

Reflecting on the outpouring of support, Vanzant attributes it to the genuine desire of the Franklin County community to make a difference. 

“The original director of Campora Resource Center, Janice Bean, used to call the family resource center a ‘one-stop shop for families.’ We’re kind of like Walmart. You can come here and get just about anything. If we don’t have it, we try to connect you to those resources in the community.”

The partnerships with local churches, schools, and businesses create a network of support for less fortunate individuals and families in crisis. The center’s staff strives daily to help families and children break the cycle of generational challenges.

As the director, Vanzant is a leader and a conduit for positive change. His faith, fused seamlessly with his work, propels the center forward, creating ripples of hope that touch the lives of children and families. 

“I just try to live my life like God designed me to live it. I don’t separate who I am from what I do, so God honors that, and He always provides.” 

Family Resource Center leadership sows seeds of hope here, cultivating futures that defy limitations and blossom with promise. Campora Family Resource Center ceaselessly molds a brighter future for everyone who walks through its doors.

Vanzant welcomes involvement for those inspired to contribute through volunteering, tutoring, or monetary support. GN

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