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Community West Side News

Chapel Rock Community Development hosts first meeting to connect westsiders with community resources

Nicole Thomas
Phyllis Lewis (right) speaks with Kevin Britt (middle) and Kayla Britt-Nichols (left) during Chapel Rock Community Development’s meeting October 24, 2023 at the Indianapolis Public Library – Wayne Branch. Lewis served more than 50 years as a member MSD of Wayne Township’s School Board before joining CRCD’s leadership team.

“What is the best thing about the westside?”

Ron Greiner, a member of Chapel Rock Community Development’s (CRCD) leadership team, asked this question to the 15 individuals gathered at the corporation’s first meeting October 23, 2024 at the Indianapolis Public Library – Wayne Branch.

Leaders, members and employees from Chapel Rock Christian Church, Lynhurst Baptist Church, Chapel Hill United Methodist Church, Church of the Master, Wayne Township Trustee Office and Eskenazi Health answered Greiner’s question with its people, schools and diversity.

Greiner began the corporation’s meeting explaining CRCD’s initial goals of starting an advocacy program to help westside residents impacted by Indianapolis’ high eviction rate before opening the floor up to attendees to voice concerns they’re facing as westside residents.

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Eryn Morrow, a physician assistant at Eskenazi Health, said an issue she has noticed is the disconnect between community resources and those who need it. It can be hard to ask for help, Morrow said, and the corporation could be a way to empower individuals to find the help they’re searching for.

“People don’t know what they don’t know,” Morrow said.

One individual looking for resources in her community at CRCD’s meeting was Jessie Britt, an occupational therapist at Ben Davis High School’s Special Education Department. Some of her students work at Teacher’s Treasures and Goodwill, Britt said, and she asked the group whether they knew of more skill-based job opportunities in the area or job assistance programs she could explore for her students.

While discussing local resources the group knew of their churches and neighborhoods, Mark Montgomery, the outreach and worship director at Chapel Hill United Methodist Church, said he and his staff have used Indiana 211 to help their church’s members. This free and confidential 24-hour service helps Hoosiers find local programs, like food pantries and clothing drives, and assistance for employment, housing, health care, utilities, taxes and more.

Phyllis Lewis, who is also a part of CRCD’s leadership team, invited Melinda Mullican, the Wayne library’s branch manager, to join the meeting’s discussion about community resources. Mullican is passionate about working one-on-one with people, she said, as she helps connect people to the right programs the library offers.

Not only does the library have books and movies, she said, but the Wayne branch also prides itself on being a community center. The Indianapolis Public Library’s catalogs on its website events happening across its 25 branches, from technology workshops to financial literacy classes. Mullican said CRCD could use this event page as a starting point to meet individuals where they’re at and find out what they would like to see from the corporation to feel more connected to their westside community.

As the co-founder of the Mars Hill Arts Center, Lisa Schmitz said, she has seen first-hand how building trusting relationships can help individuals feel connected and welcomed within their community.

Two years ago, a family who was hosting a birthday party at Mars Hill Arts Center told her, “We all want to come here because you make us feel welcome,” and that has stuck with her ever since, she said. Since then, she has seen an influx of families who are Hispanic renting out the nonprofit organization’s event space through word-of-mouth, she said.

The group agreed that showing up in spaces celebrating cultures different than one’s own — like community events at non-Christian churches on the westside — can also further CRCD’s mission. This way, CRCD can better understand these individuals, their culture and values and speak with them what they would need to feel connected with their westside neighbors.

Looking forward, CRCD plans to meet again in early December where Greiner invites attendees to bring more members from their churches and neighborhoods into the meeting, so CRCD can better represent and learn from those with diverse cultures and backgrounds on the westside.

To learn more about the Chapel Rock Community Development and its mission, visit its website

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