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Sunday, January 29, 2023

Groups come together to strengthen Martindale-Brightwood

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In this giving season, we welcome you back “Around the Corner.”  

Please continue to follow us here and stay in touch with the renaissance going on in Martindale-Brightwood, fondly known as “the Gateway Corridor of the East Side.”

Nestled between the northeast corridor and near-east area of Indianapolis, Martindale-Brightwood is situated east of Fall Creek and Kennedy King, south of Avondale Meadows and north of Brookside. Martindale-Brightwood, through its Neighborhood Engagement Office and combined resident activity, is developing a more neighborly relationship among the areas and new, impactful partnerships, such as Promise Zone and Promise Neighborhoods.

The holiday season is commonly known as a time to give to family, friends, co-workers and even philanthropically to service agencies, including churches and community centers. In this 2016 holiday season, take another peek into this area and then feel free to get in where you fit in — we are looking for new partners in the work.

Community centers and churches have long been important to the development of a neighborhood identity in Martindale-Brightwood. Centers (often operated by churches) advocated for development of the neighborhood and residents. In 1913, Hillside Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), opened a free medical clinic to serve Hillside in Martindale-Brightwood. In 1935, the Brightwood Community Center was founded and located between Martindale and Brightwood at 2305 N. Rural St. The community center acted as a social and educational headquarters for African-Americans in the neighborhood. In 1940, Edna Martin became the director of East Side Community Center, which later opened as the East Side Baptist Center at 1519 Martindale Ave. The center was renamed in honor of Edna Martin after her death in 1974. It has relocated twice and is now at 2605 E. 25th St., inside the renovated historic IPS School 37. St. Rita’s Catholic Church continued its community service with the institution of a summer youth center combating juvenile delinquency in 1947, and a summer camp for underprivileged African-American boys in 1949. St. Rita’s also involved itself with a neighborhood beautification project.

In the 1950s and 1960s, many churches began community service projects. New Bethel Baptist Church operated a community center providing food, clothing, help for unemployed, childcare and health services. In 1962, the church began participating in “Operation Prove It,” an inner-city interdenominational ministry program involving 17 northside churches sharing the goals of improving inner-city housing, deterring juvenile delinquency, calming interracial tensions and battling job insecurity.

In 1967, following the declaration of Martindale as a poverty target area, the Martindale Area Citizens Service (MACS) organized to provide aid against the poverty, deteriorating houses, health problems, crime and unemployment that threatened the neighborhood. St. Rita’s and Scott Methodist provided services for MACS. St. Paul AME Church followed in 1970 with construction of its new community building to be used as a community center for activities in District Three of the Model Cities program.

Community centers have continued their involvement in Martindale-Brightwood. In the 1980s, the NAACP, Brightwood Community Center and several block clubs organized against unemployment; loss of business; crime; redlining; lack of housing rehabilitation funds, social services, new houses and commercial development.

This has all culminated in five community and service organizations (Martindale-Brightwood Community Development Corporation, Oasis Christian Community Development Corporation, Stop the Violence, Edna Martin Christian Center and PACE) taking lead in addressing these issues through a collaboration called M.O.V.E. M.O.V.E. leads the community in carrying out initiatives found in the Martindale-Brightwood and Northeast Corridor Quality of Life Plans. The Greater Citizens Coalition of Martindale Brightwood, more commonly known as One Voice, is an elected board of directors composed of 51 percent residents and 49 percent service providers, business owners and other stakeholders, and takes care of the resident engagement and mobilization piece of getting the work done.  

Much remains to be done to improve the neighborhood and rebuild a community having witnessed much change in the past 40 years. You can help if interested in partnering with this community. Contact Gina Fears, neighborhood engagement coordinator, at (317) 637-3776.

Thank you, and happy holidays to all.

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