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Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Summer outreach program will connect communities with help

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By JILL SHERIDAN WFYI

A summer program that aims to build relationships in communities at risk of violence is back.

The Summer Neighborhood Outreach Series brings representatives from the Office of Public Health and Safety and local service organizations to communities every Wednesday in June.

OPHS Director Lauren Rodriguez said the program brings resources to Indianapolis residents.

“The only way we can help our community is to meet them where they are and to listen to them and to start those conversations,” Rodriguez said.

OPHS outreach workers, including peacekeepers, helped identify four different parks where the events will be held. The first was June 1 in Grassy Creek Park on the east side. Future events are scheduled for Gustafson and Denver Parks on the west side and Wes Montgomery Park on the east side.

The series offers an opportunity to build trust between community and workers.

“A lot of our outreach workers are new this year, so although they may know some people already, this is a great time for them to meet other people,” Rodriguez said.

The events will offer a variety of social services including mobile health clinics, food, gun safety resources, employment options and public transportation help.

Rodriguez said the events offer a chance to better understand what community needs are.

“Either we can connect people right away to services that already exist that they may not realize or we get to have our eyes widened and let us know, ‘Hey, we don’t have this type of programming in Marion County. Why?’” Rodriguez said.

The office is also holding a Community Empowerment Conference this weekend with youth and their caregivers to talk about violence reduction.

This series will continue from 4-6 p.m. every Wednesday through June 22.

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