Fort Wayne, Ind. (WANE) – “We have been told we’re crazy by some people,” says Landis Kelsaw, a member of Fort Wayne’s TenPoint Coaltion.
“But then they come back like, wait a minute, this is actually working.”
“This” is the near-nightly walks through the Oxford neighborhood by the yellow-vested TenPoint Coaltion members.
“People think we’re just walking,” explains Afrika Allison.
“We’re not just walking; we’re touching, we’re saving, we’re helping, we’re guiding and we’re sending love and support. This is not where we are just moving our feet and walking down the street.”
The TenPoint Coalition is part of the city’s Fort Wayne United program. Many of the “walkers” receive a stipend. The program is funded largely by private donations.
Members meet neighbors, connect people to social agencies, alert the city about potholes and broken sidewalks, and surround the area with hope and help.
On a recent walk, members saw water streaming out of a house onto a frozen sidewalk – a likely sign of a burst pipe. A knock on the door revealed a new Burmese resident who knew about the pipe but didn’t know how to fix it.
Members overcame the language barrier to teach the man to call 2-1-1 to get help from the city. They followed up the next day.
“We’re trying to make the community stronger and make the community feel safe and feel that we are someone that can be trusted,” says Allison.
“Yeah, we have gang members come up to us, break down and actually cry like ‘man, we don’t want to be out here.'” adds Kelsaw.
The results seem clear. The Fort Wayne Police Department released the following statistics for TenPoint’s first year in the Oxford community:
- Rape decreased 77%
- Aggravated Assault decreased 65%
- Robbery decreased 62%
- Burglary decreased 31%
- Larceny decreased 12%
- Motor Vehicle Theft decreased 28%
Additionally, there were no homicides between October 25, 2018 and October 25, 2019 in the Oxford Community.
“We are absolutely here to help. That’s it,” says Allison.
With the success of the program, they would like to expand into a new neighborhood. If you would like to learn more, visit their website by clicking here.
Volunteers must be 18 years old or older.