FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Residents in one of Fort Wayne’s longest serving neighborhood associations work together to help maintain the integrity of their southeast side community.
“I know everybody’s house where they used to live and I know who lives there now and I drive by and do my little roundabouts,” said neighborhood handyman Paul Gerardot, who is also a volunteer at St. Henry’s Catholic Church.
Gerardot grew up in the Hoevelwood community on Fort Wayne’s southeast side. He moved away but comes back often to help people he still considers his neighbors. “I do a lot at the church and I come out here to people’s homes and plow, cut grass, aerate if they ask me to. The one thing that Day says I need to do is learn to say no to people.”
“Paul does all that for free. He won’t accept money,” said Day Morgan. She and her husband have lived in the Hoevelwood community for 45 years. “I love this side of town,” said Morgan. It’s just wonderful, nothing like what you hear on TV or see on TV about the south side being all bad.”
Morgan has been president of the Hoevelwood Neighborhood Association for 20 years. She frequently attends local and regional neighborhood conferences that show her how to keep her community engaged while cutting down on crime and property negligence.
“It is very important to have a neighborhood association,” said Morgan. “I have some of the best block captains for every block and some have two or three blocks. It’s always nice to know you’ve got people walking the block and knocking on your door asking what else can we do for you and we ask how can we make your block a little better.”
Morgan says the neighborhood association, its people and St. Henry’s Church are the main reasons the Hoevelwood neighborhood is thriving.
“I call St. Henry’s an oasis of this community,” said Gerardot. “We’re a lighthouse too because on the backside of the church we grow more than just vegetables in our community garden. We grow kindness, hope and respect.”
“Then you’ve the thrift store where people come in and they know they can find good items at reasonable prices,” said Morgan. “If they can’t afford it sometimes Paul let’s them have it for practically nothing and he always brings in the love of God and that’s what the church is all about. That’s what St. Henry’s is all about. We just love being in this area.”
There are approximately 400 neighborhood associations in Fort Wayne but only about half are still active. You can go to the City of Fort Wayne website to get information on the different associations.