The Near West Side Multi-Service Corporation was incorporated as a 501 (c) (3) on July 30, 1969. In 1974, with support from the City of Cleveland’s Department of Development, the current facility was designed and constructed at 4115 Bridge Avenue in Cleveland’s Ohio City neighborhood.
The facility was named the May Dugan Multi Service Center to honor the late May Dugan, a long-time resident of the neighborhood who had been a one-person advocate and counselor for her neighbors in need. Today, the Center continues the tradition of its namesake by providing basic and enhanced programming to people that improve their quality of life and, in doing so, strengthen their community.
The founders were inspired by President Lyndon B. Johnson’s War on Poverty and the mandate of the Kennedy-Johnson Economic Opportunities Act. They made a strong commitment to helping individuals and families become self-sufficient, contributing members of their community. For 50 years, the Center has committed to a comprehensive and caring approach which has proved to be an effective method to help people overcome socio-economic disadvantages.
The founders laid the foundation for the May Dugan Center today – a respected and competent multi-service center serving residents of Cleveland’s near west side neighborhoods and the Greater Cleveland community. The agency is an independent, not-for-profit organization and is governed by 17 Trustees from both the private and not-for-profit sectors.
WHO WAS MAY DUGAN
The Near West Side Multi-Service Corporation was established in 1969 and 1974, the current facility was built on Bridge Avenue in the Ohio City community. It was named the May Dugan Multi-Service Center as a tribute to May and her life-time work as a one-person counselor and advocate for her neighbors in need.
Her compassion is legendary. At one time, 25 penniless and homeless people were housed and fed in May’s attic, basement and garage. Countless other times, when neighbors needed food for their children, they came to May; she always provided assistance, even if it had to come from her own meager resources. In addition, when someone was charged justly, or unjustly, May knew where to go downtown and who should be seen.
The late Abe Dudnick, one of Cleveland’s most eminent attorneys, described May Dugan as having “a combination of intelligence, tenacity, and charity, unmatched in her fight for the down and out and the forgotten.” In 1932, May opened the first of a series of Irish neighborhood taverns, with the last one established in 1940 on W.58th and Detroit, and known as Dugan’s. Under May’s proprietorship, these establishments filled an important social need in the community; equally important, they offered a venue for May to help her neighbors find jobs, food and clothing, and legal advice.
May Dugan’s mother and father came to Cleveland in 1882, arriving in a horse -drawn wagon from Detroit, and part of the Irish migration from Achill Island on the northwest coast of Ireland. May, born in 1892, married William Reynolds in 1910 at St. Malachi’s Church. They had six children: James, Hazel, Francis, Rita, Hubert, and Mary Jane.Her memory is still honored by the grandchildren and great-grandchildren Of the people she helped many years ago; they still remember their parents talking about hard times and the “generous warmhearted Irish lady who put food on their table when no one else cared.” Based on the article, May Dugan: Honored for a Life-Time of Caring, by Joe Finan