Wednesday, March 7, 2012

NOT Political: Goodwin Center Trying To Stand On Its Own

For many years in Decatur Township, there was no community center.  For young students, there was no place to get head start services, and, for seniors, there was nowhere that provided programs for them.

The Goodwin Center is located at 3935 W. Mooresville Rd.
in Decatur Township.
That all changed a few years ago when the Mary Rigg Neighborhood Center opened the George T. Goodwin Center with the help of Decatur Township Schools in a former school building adjacent to Stephen Decatur Elementary.

Quickly, the center became quite popular launching programs aimed at young and young at heart.  A Head Start program opened, and the Silver Eagles became a place where senior citizens could feel young again.  Pottery and genealogy classes began.  CPR classes were taught there.  Fun trips were organized.  A food pantry was established to feed hungry township residents.  It became a place where people could get their taxes done or meet with the Mayor's Neighborhood Liaison and just be a part of the community.  It became a Decatur Township gathering spot.

Last year, it became threatened.  According to those familiar with the situation, Mary Rigg wanted to absorb many of the programs and shut down the community center, but that simply was not going to happen in Decatur Township.

So, a determined group set forth to keep it open.  Working with the MSD of Decatur Township, the center determined that there still was a need for the Goodwin Center's services in Decatur.  What followed was a messy divorce probably best left to just that description.  Toby York, the only executive director the center had ever known, tendered his resignation to Mary Rigg, and it was immediately accepted, and, on the first day of 2012, the center became a stand alone Community Center.

Slowly but surely, the Goodwin Center is starting to ramp up its programs again.  York and Dorothy Moore, the only two employees of the center, began working without salaries and volunteering their time and efforts.  Volunteers have showed up to help get the center's legs back under it.  It was like starting from scratch.  From paying the bills to keeping up the insurance, it all became the responsibility of the Goodwin Center.

Today, York spends his time writing grants for every last dollar he can find, and the Goodwin Center is open and getting stronger by the day.  In essence, it never closed.  People that went there for programming never experienced any down time.  The food pantry is still open and working to distribute food to the needy families of Decatur Township.

It can't happen alone, though.  The Hawthorne Community Center stepped in with some help for York to allow the Goodwin Center to operate as a non-profit.  Others have been donating as well writing checks for thousands of dollars to help the dreams of York and the determined residents of Decatur Township to keep open their community center.

A new board is in place now, and the Goodwin Center is well on its way to rebuilding the programs and services that were there before Mary Rigg left.

Why am I writing this?  Because I believe in this place.  I believe that its story needed to be told, and I call on my readers to help in any way you can.  Call the Goodwin Center at (317) 247-5201 to find out how.  You can also send donations to the George T. Goodwin Center at 3935 W. Mooresville Road, Indianapolis, IN 46221.

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