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ECAT’s Out of the Bag!

By Drevell Showers, Development Coordinator at Hamot Health Foundation

It’s been years in the making! The Wayne Building public open house and ribbon cutting have come and gone, but we must reflect on the significance of this day.

ECAT wayne building ribbon cutting crop
On Sept. 16, 2021, Erie Center for Arts and Technology (ECAT) opened its doors.

You may even call this “groundbreaking” for the Erie community, particularly for families who reside on the lower east side. I certainly can, having grown up just a few blocks away from Wayne School. It is no secret that to this day, this area of our community has been neglected in many ways. In fact, many youth from this area have not been afforded the same opportunities as others who reside less than 10 minutes down the road from them. However, on Sept. 16, 2021, a BIG step in the right direction was made for this area when the Erie Center for Arts and Technology (ECAT) opened its doors.

“I can tell you that the way I feel today is that my heart is truly full, but it is not full of pride, and it is not full of joy,” said Daria Devlin, execute director of ECAT. “It’s truly just full of gratitude because of the amazing people that have come together to make this happen.”

Speaking of amazing people that have come together to make ECAT a reality, Bill Strickland of the Manchester Bidwell Corporation in Pittsburgh delivered a heartfelt speech to those in attendance.

“This has got to stop. Our country is divided. (ECAT) is an example of what America is supposed to look like, folks. We can’t live like this, and the people in this neighborhood deserve a chance to breathe.”

Furthermore, Strickland said, “You can’t tell me that we can’t figure this out, because we HAVE figured it out.”

How did we figure this out you ask? Well, the answer is simple.

More facilities like ECAT in neighborhoods like the lower east side of Erie, all over America. It’s not as far-fetched as one might think. The Erie community has proved this much. For example, look at Hamot Health Foundation and its impact.

One of HHF’s primary goals is to bring health care to those who need it most, and the substantial investment it has put into the new building makes all the sense in the world from a community standpoint. This is one of the many reasons I am honored to be a part of the HHF team. There’s a genuine interest here to make Erie, in its entirety, better through initiatives like ECAT.

It just goes to show how much can be accomplished through love, compassion, empathy, and collaboration.

That is what seeing this immaculate new building has shown me personally. It represents hope for people who grew up similarly to me.

There’s beauty in the struggle, and those of us who have struggled in our lives have so much to offer because of it. Especially those who have and continue to overcome the odds set forth against them. The possibilities are truly endless for us, and ECAT makes that such for many others too.

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