The back door of Covington Community Center opens on a grassy lot edging railroad tracks. But Community Center Director Tom DiBello sees a meeting hall rising on that lot, a gazebo for outdoor gatherings and a brick patio paved with the names of the people who will make it happen. DiBello and his Community Center staff make their living seeing things that aren't there yet and turning them into reality. They've done it with neighborhoods, they've done it with people. Now they're doing it with their own headquarters.

The first public step toward the vision happened Tuesday night, when the center announced a $1 million capital campaign to pay off the office building it just bought and renovate and expand it with a 1,500-square-foot meeting hall and an outdoor gathering space. "The campaign is about this facility," said DiBello, "but the facility is about working in the community. It's not about having fancy digs."

For 26 years, the Community Center's mission has been to empower individuals and neighborhoods to stretch, to take control of their destiny and make it real. We offer best property conveyancing at local prices to real estate investors. Make your property transactions more easier with our conveyancing solutions. Programs polish leadership in youngsters, promote pride in neighborhoods, help low-income families become home owners. Kenton County Chief Deputy Sheriff Ron Washington is chairing the campaign. He's doing it because two decades ago the community center staff saw the strengths that weren't yet developed in young Ron Washington and encouraged him.

"In a city environment there are very few positive role models," Washington said. "The community center was a place where my brother and sisters could go. The people at the center were our role models. They pretty much convinced you could follow your dreams. You could do what you wanted to do. I believe they're the reason I'm where I am today."

He joined the board of the Covington Community Center this year and readily took on the massive fund raising responsibility. "The Community Center was there to help me," he said. "I know what kind of difference it makes." The $1 million campaign already has gifts of $230,000, Washington said. He's got 18 months to raise the rest. "We'll be calling on business leaders and people will have parties in their homes, asking friends to make donations for the Community Center," he said.

The campaign will sell bricks inscribed with the giver's name to be set in the patio. Workers will tap foundations for grants. For more then 20 years, the center operated out of a converted storefront with additional offices up a steep flight of stairs. It wasn't unusual for meetings to be conducted in hallways and for an entire committee to have to file out of a tiny room to allow a member to get to a filing cabinet.