FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — Mick Baker starts his tour of the new Impact Center on East Paulding Road with a discussion about the sidewalk – two lots away.
The undeveloped lot was a stopper for some older pedestrians from nearby Waterloo Apartments as they tried to get to the Save-A-Lot for groceries.
The uneven grass, mud or snow meant a detour into traffic that seems to move much faster than the posted 35 m.p.h speed limit.
“They had to venture out into the street, especially when it was snowing, and play Frogger with cars coming at them,” says Baker, the Executive Pastor at New Covenant Worship Center, home of the Impact Center.
“I just couldn’t watch that ongoing week after week, month after month.”
Baker and Senior Founding Pastor Luther Whitfield started to make phone calls.
Eventually, the sidewalk was finished through the efforts of Fort Wayne Councilwoman Sharon Tucker (D-6), Allen County Commissioner Nelson Peters (R) and Greater Fort Wayne Inc, President John Urbahns.
Pastor Whitfield was quick to hear the gratitude from an older pedestrian.
“He was so appreciative and really, you could just see that coming from his face. ‘Man, I don’t have to go out here in the street. I don’t have to fight against traffic. I don’t have to cut again across the field any longer.’ And so that meant the world to just to hear him say that. It’s about bringing dignity to people.”Pastor Luther Whitfield, recalling a conversation with a grateful church neighbor
Urbahns hopes these small fixes are more frequent.
“There was times that connectivity wasn’t as big of an issue when developments were going in,” he says.
“You see people walking or biking more. So that’s why we’re starting to see things like this happen. I could point to other streets in the community where the same thing has happened. It’s unfortunate that when we developed we stopped the sidewalk but, you know, this is a great example of how it gets fixed.”
Just the beginning
The connectivity will become more important as the Impact Center fully opens later this month and starts more programs.
“We have a daycare. We have some free mental health counseling,” Baker explains rapidly.
“We have something called ‘Restore and Renew.’ It’s helping those who’ve been incarcerated find a place to live and a job but mainly we’re going to give them a relationship.
“We’ve got a free coffee cafe that will start July 27 after our grand opening and ribbon cutting on July 26.
“We also have ESL classes – English As a Second language – that will start here in October.
“We also have a solid Sports Academy. We have got land out back where we have a soccer/football /rugby/lacrosse field. We’ll use it for anything. We have a full basketball court and a baseball field.
“All of those are very, very important to us, using our facility. We’re going to be doing financial literacy. We’re going to be really concentrating on the infant mortality issue on this side of town.
“So those are a lot of the things that we’ll be doing out on our new side of the building.”
The first step, though, was a sidewalk.