Santa Maria Celebrates 125 Years of Helping Families Help Themselves



Santa Maria Community Services, Inc., a nonprofit, place-based in Cincinnati, Ohio’s Price Hill community, dedicated to helping families help themselves, will celebrate its 125th anniversary throughout the year 2022.

It was known as the Gay Nineties, and the Progressive Era. Amelia Earhart and William Faulkner were born that year and William McKinley was the President of the United States. It was December 8, 1897 when two biological sisters, and Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati, Blandina and Justina Segale, founded the Santa Maria Italian Educational and Industrial Home.

Santa Maria has been known by other names as well; The Santa Maria Institute; Santa Maria Neighborhood House (1966); and Santa Maria Community Services, Inc. (1972). Santa Maria has had many locations over the years, starting out in the Holy Trinity Church on Fifth Street downtown. Today Santa Maria has several locations on Warsaw Avenue in East Price Hill, as well as an administrative office in Sedamsville and the Joe Williams Family Center on Glenway Avenue in Lower Price Hill. Santa Maria has had many branches; the Santo Bambino Day Nursery; the St. Anthony Welfare Center; The Family Nurture Center; The International Welcome Center; and the Lower Price Hill Family Center. And Santa Maria has merged with many other organizations, like Literacy Center West, and The Madonna Community House.

But the one thing that has not changed throughout the 125 years Santa Maria has been in existence is Sister Blandina’s and Sister Justina’s vision to welcome new immigrant populations to Cincinnati. Today, Santa Maria has expanded its services to also include early childhood development, community building, education advancement, employment assistance, financial stability, health and wellness and youth development.

To celebrate its quasquicentennial, Santa Maria has three events planned for 2022. First, Summer Safety Fest returns to Lower Price Hill this coming June. This grill out and resource fair celebrates the Lower Price Hill community and brings the community together to reduce violence in the neighborhood. Secondly, The Sharing Table returns in 2022! The Sharing Table is a special event that raises awareness of childhood poverty. Cincinnati has the fourth-highest childhood poverty rate in the country, with 43% of children living below the poverty level. The Sharing Table will be held in September at ARCO (3301 Price Avenue). Lastly, Santa Maria is planning a special, one-time event to celebrate its 125th birthday in November 2022. This will be an informal reception with music, food, and fun activities.

“We are so proud of Santa Maria’s legacy, providing a home base for immigrants for over a century and evolving into a place where anyone in our community can come to get help to get back on their feet,” said H.A. Musser, Jr., president and CEO of Santa Maria Community Services, Inc.

“While much has changed since Sisters Blandina and Justina founded Santa Maria, what has remained a constant, is our focus on being a catalyst and advocate for families to attain their educational, financial, and health goals,” he said. “We hope you stay tuned in 2022 as we celebrate our history and founders and learn more about Santa Maria’s hopes and dreams for the future.”