Statistics for the city’s southeast side, especially the 46806 ZIP code, can paint a daunting picture for those who choose to tackle problems of violence and lack of opportunity.
In an area of roughly 26,000 people, nearly half are younger than 27.
Only about 7 percent of that population older than 24 has a college degree, less than half the national average. More than 60 percent of the homes are single-parent households, more than double the national average.
So when the Boys & Girls Clubs of Fort Wayne – which provided those statistics Friday – wanted to open a new site, it was virtually a no-brainer to put it where those children could be reached.
Friday, the organization introduced to the public a new site at Fellowship Missionary Church on East Tillman Road.
It’s almost as if it was made for us, said Joe Jordan, executive director of the local Boys & Girls Clubs.
The church is donating five large rooms and a gymnasium to the Boys & Girls Clubs, which will conduct various programs at the facility.
Jordan said he approached church officials about opening a new site there about a year ago, mainly because of the growth of his organization.
Officials jumped on board, and with help from the United Way of Allen County, Community Harvest Food Bank and the Foellinger Foundation, the new site is scheduled to open next week.
I went to Pastor Dave (DeSelm) and just asked him, Come dream with me,’ Jordan said about his approach to church officials.
We just thought it’d be a good match.
At the church, the Boys & Girls Clubs will offer programs in academics, healthy lifestyle, character and leadership.
The new site will be especially instrumental in reaching children in the East Allen County Schools district.
In fact, Jordan said, the school district was helpful in allowing the site to be a dropoff point for students.
The facilities at the church will help the Boys & Girls Clubs reach about 150 to 200 new children not already taking part in the organization, according to Jordan.
The Boys & Girls Clubs has three other sites in the city and serves more than 300 children and teens between the ages of 6 and 18 each weekday. The local organization serves more than 1,500 members annually.
The other sites – one on Fairfield Avenue, and the two others at the public housing properties of Brookmill Court and McCormick Place – will remain open.
And with the new site, Jordan hopes to put a dent into the problems on the city’s southeast side.
We’re about building kids and building adults and giving kids hope, he said.