Lisa Morris, Executive Director of Metro Ministries since 1977, introduced the event as “something new and challenging,” and encouraged participants to view it as a learning opportunity and to leverage it as best they could. Rev. Bob Coleman, Interim Superintendent of the Central District, and longtime partner of Metro Ministries, helped kick off the dinner celebration with prayer and cheerful invitation.
The conversations which took place throughout the evening encompassed the level of appreciation these organizations have for the work of Indianapolis Metro Ministries, their ability to “always be there when you need them the most,” honoring those who have helped to fund many of the projects that Metro Ministries oversees, as well as paying homage to those who have or will soon hang their hats as members or partners of Indianapolis Metro Ministries, Inc. Members like Bert Kite, former Superintendent of the Central District, and newly-appointed Senior Pastor of Castleton UMC, who received a special honor for being the driving force in many of the campaigns that have received grants from Metro Ministries.
At one of the tables sat Holly McHugh and Michelle Dickerson, employees of Fletcher Place Community Center, a local organization located near Downtown Indianapolis committed to bringing a sense of renewal to children and families that have encountered hard times. Fletcher place and Metro Ministries have partnered on countless occasions to help support a variety of educational programs for the children and youth of Central Indiana. Most recently the two organizations have joined to help forward “Art in the City,’ an annual summer-long program that has had a tremendous impact on the center’s youth, heightening their appreciation for art and self-expression. With the help of interns from the IUPUI Herron School of Art and Design and community volunteers, children and youth of various age groups are exposed to an environment cultivated by a shared passion for teaching, learning, and promoting art in the community. With the assistance of Metro Ministries, Fletcher Place Community Center was able to host another year of the program, as well as purchase sufficient art supplies for all the participants.
Attendees at the celebration dinner also heard reports from Pastor Joseph and Sharon Johnson of Lawrence Youth Corps, a Lawrence UMC organization. The Lawrence Youth Corps is a five-week summer program designed specifically to teach youth, grades 6–9, about responsibility, respect for one’s environment and peers, and the importance of teamwork and leadership, through community service. The program focuses heavily of helping teens develop their character and gain confidence while committing their time and effort to improving their community.
Teens are placed into groups and chaperoned as they go out in their community and work free of charge. Daily tasks can range feeding the homeless to cleaning and pulling weeds from a dilapidated area. This summer, the youth corps tackled 75 projects, accumulated 3,000 hours of community service, developed a park program for local children, maintained a community garden, and much more.
What became quite obvious throughout the conversations shared during celebration dinner was that those respect for their work, appreciation of all who are involved, and their calling for working with children and youth who are quite familiar with the disparities of life.
“Kids are our hearts. We want them to be safe, and have good upbringing,” says Holly McHugh.
Other organizations that attended the celebration dinner include:
- Brightwood Community Center
- Castleton UM Share-LT
- East Tenth UM Children & Youth Center, Inc.
- Lawrence Summer Youth Camp
- Neighbor Link Indy
- Sheridan First UMC Lunch Club
- Vida Nueva UM Ministries
- Wesley UMC