Barack Obama said, “Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.”
When I took over Tindley Summit Academy in October of 2017, I wanted to do more than lead a school. I wanted to make an impact in the community. I wanted Tindley Summit to become a beacon of hope and change in a community that seemed to be neglected for years. I hinted at such change at the beginning of the school year. My blog post, “To The Top: Tindley Summit and the Rebirth of Dubarry” was about how this elementary school would inspire a revitalization of a neighborhood. I wanted to get to know the staff, the students, and the parents. I started out one parent at a time with Ashley Virden. After several conversations, I realized she was committed to the same vision I had for Tindley Summit Academy, especially the community component. Ms. Virden was not only a parent of two Tindley Summit Academy scholars, but she was also a resident of Dubarry. She now lives in the house that she grew up in, continuing her lifelong residency in the Dubarry neighborhood. She has a vested interest in ensuring this neighborhood strives. She remembers growing up with friends in the neighborhood, and she wants the same for her children.
Ms. Virden and I decided to start a neighborhood committee. The committee would meet weekly at Tindley Summit, and the school would be a vested partner in this committee. We sought help from the Mayor’s office neighborhood resource center. At our first meeting, we did not have anyone show up; however, we decided to carry on with the meeting. After that meeting, we chose to put boots on the ground and hit the neighborhood to do some canvassing by knocking on doors. At our next meeting, we saw attendance increase and also the awareness that a neighborhood committee had formed. I remember telling Ms. Virden at the end of that meeting, “This will not be easy; however, nothing worth having is ever easy.” We both decided to stay committed. That is when Dubarry Determined was born. Dubarry Determined was about revitalizing for our present and future neighbors.
All of that brings me to this past Saturday. Over the past couple of weeks across our city, there have been neighborhood cleanups taking place. The cleanups are a part of Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett campaign #ItsMyCity. The campaign is about residents taking back their neighborhood and their city and loving the place where they live and work. On Saturday, our Tindley Summit Academy, in partnership with the Dubarry Community Revitalization Committee, put on our Dubarry Determined Neighborhood Cleanup. It was a fantastic event because we had forty volunteers including seven teachers from the school, five parents, our CEO/Chancellor, and fifteen students from the school volunteer and spend three hours cleaning the neighborhood. The Mayor even came out to help with the cleanup. The Mayor spoke before our cleanup began and talked about the importance of individuals taking care of their neighborhood. Ashley and I both were humbled by the amount of support for our Dubarry Determined Campaign because it is just the start of what we want to do in partnership with the school.
When the clean up was over, Ashley and I sat back and took a moment to admire the work we had done. Not just the amount of trash bags we filled, or the people that participated, but for the movement that only a few months prior seem hopeless. I asked her thoughts, and this is what she said:
With just a pair of gloves, trash bags and buckets we were able to get out in the neighborhood and make a huge impact by cleaning up some of the blight that negatively affects our community. It felt amazing to be surrounded by so many awesome people who stood up to make a difference and be the change that we need in this world. I hope that through our acts of stewardship, others will notice the difference and be more mindful the next time they litter and will be encouraged to join us as we continue our cleaning efforts monthly. Gone are the days where we are just going to sit back and let our community get treated like a dump. We are taking our community back and showing the rest of our city that we do care and we will rise to the top.
I am completely humbled by what happened Saturday, but I am also now motivated more than ever. Dubarry Determined is alive and well and people are committed and I would like to reemphasize my thoughts from my blog back in August. This year Dubarry has reappeared and is beginning to flourish. This year there has been an increase in the community presence and awareness. Tindley Summit and Dubarry Determined have allowed Dubarry to be reborn, and we are going straight, “TO THE TOP.”