Thirteen years ago, Marie and Charles moved into the home where Charles had grown up on the northeast side of Indianapolis. Many of their neighbors were older, having lived on the street for decades. The day one of them fell, Marie found a mission.
“We couldn’t get in there to help her, and we had no numbers to call her daughter,” Marie recalled. “Most of us here are seniors, and everyone has some sort of health issue. If anything happens, I needed a number where I could call a family member.”
So Marie went house to house and compiled a directory of emergency contact information. Today as president of the block, Marie, 67, continues to look after her neighbors.
“Just a lot of things were going on down here–empty houses, trash not being picked up, property values dropping. We’re like a little family in here, so we banded together to help each other out and improve the neighborhood,” she said.
One of the ways Marie helped was to tell her neighbors about home improvements offered through the United Northeast Community Development Corporation. Marie, along with several others on the block, received free home upgrades such as new gutters and doors, concrete work, and modifications to bathrooms and kitchens.
Through her connections to the UNECDC, Marie also learned about CICOA’s Safe at Home day on Saturday, Sept. 19, and reached out to involve others on her block. On that morning, about 100 volunteers turned out for the kickoff at the Little Bethel Crosstown Community Center, and from there dispersed to 17 nearby homes to make safety and accessibility modifications and do yard work.
At Marie and Charles’ home, volunteers installed grab bars in the bathroom and handrails on the front porch steps, secured handrails on the basement steps, and planted mums.
“My husband passes out sometimes when his blood pressure drops, and I have a hard time going up and down stairs because of two knee surgeries,” she said. “Anything that helps me help him is a blessing. I grew up in a neighborhood where people looked out for each other, so it means a lot to have people come out and help make our home safe.”