A year ago, a typical day at Concord Neighborhood Center would see seniors coming in for a meal and a game of bingo, high school students coming in for after-school activities, and a slew of activity for community residents of all ages, like art projects, basketball games, and tutoring sessions. Fast forward a year to April 2020, and everything is completely different.

Concord Neighborhood Center, Indiana’s oldest and longest operating settlement house in Indiana, is continuing to serve families on Indianapolis’ near-Southside through COVID-19 –in an entirely different way. The Center is open, but primarily providing childcare for families working essential jobs. Senior programs and activities have been halted. In fact, they haven’t seen their senior neighbors, 60 years and older, who would come to the Center daily for organized activities, since March 12. Youth and teenage development programs and classes are now online rather than in the Center. Early learning education activities for children between the ages of three to five years have moved online for families to access – if they have access to the internet – and is available in person for families of essential workers. 

While numbers of people in the Center are down, calls for help are up. Based on recent phone logs, they received an estimated 54 calls in just three days for assistance with basic needs. 

“We’re seeing people fall behind on rent because of lost jobs or cut wages, our seniors aren’t able to get out and buy groceries, and our kids are missing their friends at the Center because of the stay-at-home order,” explained Hallie Robbins, Concord’s Resource Development Coordinator. “But we’re doing everything we can to stay connected and engaged with our families. Our social workers are calling our seniors, we’re delivering food to those who need it, we’re providing activities and games online to help families stay active, and we’re helping families working to stabilize their households right now.”

One of the biggest differences for Concord amidst this crisis is the immediate need to establish full-day childcare for 45-50 children. Women’s Fund of Central Indiana heeded their call for help and provided them with an $8,000 emergency grant to support their work. 

 “We were quite moved that Women’s Fund was there for us during this crisis, so that we could turn around and be there for our families,” said Hallie. “It’s reassuring and provides a sense of security during a time that is completely chaotic.” 

Concord Neighborhood Center is focusing on the evolving needs of their community and adjusting to where and how they can best serve their families. According to Hallie, they’re planning day by day, week by week. They already know they won’t experience a traditional summer at the center, but she says they’re remaining positive and optimistic for the time when the neighborhood does get to gather at the Center. 

“We can’t wait to have our kids back, to play bingo with our seniors, and to celebrate our teens who graduated high school,” said Hallie. “There’s a lot we’ve missed, but a lot to look forward to. We will get through this together, and when we do there will be a big celebration on Indy’s southside.”

If you would like to learn more about Concord Neighborhood Center, visit concordindy.org. Hallie shared that donations of books and games are a great way to help entertain their families. The Center is open Monday-Friday, 6 a.m. – 6 p.m., and is located at 1310 S. Meridian St., if you would like to donate items.

Women’s Fund of Central Indiana, a Central Indiana Community Foundation (CICF) Fund, distributed $106,390 emergency grants to support women and girl serving organizations affected by the impact of COVID-19. Click here to learn more about Women’s Fund COVID-19 efforts or to make a contribution to the Women’s Fund COVID-19 Emergency Grant Fund.