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INDIANAPOLIS – Teams are just starting to lay the groundwork for the new 60,000 square foot facility on the east side, but the concept for the ROCK Center for Youth and Children is one that Pastor Jeffrey A. Johnson Senior has been planning for years. .
“It is the Lord who answers our prayer,” said Pastor Johnson, “I didn’t know how he was going to answer, I knew he would answer.”
Eastern Star Church received an $ 8.1 million grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. as part of its Enhancing Opportunity in Indianapolis initiative to improve the livelihoods of families facing challenges associated with poverty and insecurity financial.
They want to create a safe place for children, in a neighborhood that Pastor Johnson says has been neglected for years.
“There will be science and technology and education and arts and math and all of that is going to happen,” Johnson explained, “as well as all the sporting events that will take place.”
The center is the second phase of the church’s ROCK initiative to bring affordable housing, financial stability and quality education to Arlington Woods. Pastor Johnson grew up in this neighborhood, he understands the challenges people face here.
“There has been no new construction in this area for over 30 years,” he said.
As one of the poorest neighborhoods in Indianapolis, it is development as the community center that Johnson says is essential. He says that in the past the resources for this neighborhood had not arrived and he is grateful that no longer is the case.
“You still need a grocery store here,” Johnson said. “We need healthy, affordable food options for this community and we need to create jobs. It is not only a food desert, it is an economic desert, it is an educational desert, it is a work desert.
The hope is that people see the work that is being done and want to join in and bring new opportunities to Arlington Woods.
“People see that they are human beings here in this community like everywhere else and we have to go with each other and do our best,” Johnson said.
The goal is for the ROCK Center for Youth and Children to be completed by early 2022.
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