Fort Wayne, Ind. (WANE) – Secily White has spent nearly half her life volunteering and working for Wellspring Interfaith Social Services. “I started about 20 years ago as a 19 year old and I worked in the teen’s group”. After getting married and having four kids of her own she is now one of the summer day camp coordinators. “We try to keep up the skills over the summer as far as academics are concerned, reading, math and writing. We try to have fun.”
Wellspring is far more than a social service agency where kids can have fun. It also offers a food bank, a clothing bank, an after school program and older adult program.”We get a lot of referrals from other agencies in town,”said Executive Director Jennifer Kasmier. “We serve low-income households primarily but we don’t exclude anyone. We try to provide services to whoever’s in need.. whatever their circumstance.”
It all started in 1968 when five downtown churches joined with the YWCA to provide kids in Fort Wayne’s central neighborhood summer programs. Forty-nine years later, after undergoing a few name changes, Wellspring has become an interfaith social services agency with a simple mission: People of faith working together to support and enrich the lives of Fort Wayne central city residents.
“Wellspring has high community support,” said Kasmier.”We receive funding from the Foellinger Foundation, United Way as well as other supporters in town and we get great support from our congregations.” Saint Mary’s Catholic Church is one of those congregations. It offers one of several summer day camps. “We have kids from four years old up to 17. Kids even take yoga. There’s just a high amount of energy around that program.”
All of the programs and services provided to residents are free; from the childcare and meals, to the items in the food bank and the clothing bank, that is set up to look like a boutique. Last year Wellspring served over 6,000 people. Kasmier said, “We’re looking to serve close to 7,000 this year.”