Front Porch Alliance
“I was a stranger and you welcomed me.”
Mission Church started the Front Porch Alliance (FPA) in 1999 as a mission project in celebration of the church’s 50th anniversary. The church wanted to create a meaningful community service project in the urban core. The hope and mission was to build a better relationship and understanding of life outside our doors.
After much thought, prayer and research, the Ivanhoe Neighborhood (31st to 47th, Paseo to Prospect) was selected as the perfect area for such a partnership. The key word ... partnership.
FPA founders sat down with neighborhood leaders and residents to determine the true needs of the neighborhood. The residents identified four priorities:
- cleaning up the neighborhood;
- economic development; and
To this day, all FPA programs seek to meet these needs. Ivanhoe residents participate in the design of all programs, often serving as leaders or instructors.
Current programs include:
Parent to Parent - This monthly session allows parents, particularly those of teenagers, to come together to share concerns, ideas, and strategies for living peacefully and productively with your children.
Teen Talk - Every Wednesday afternoon, a group of youth come together to discuss issues that affect them - drugs, gangs, bullying, sexuality, relationships, school, etc. For many of these young people it is the only place where they feel comfortable sharing their concerns.
Teens First - On Saturdays youth ages 10 and older meet to participate in a variety of activities from field trips to community service projects to preparing nutritious food. It's a safe, nurturing place to hang out on the weekend.
Gardening – Each May, 175 flats of flowers are distributed to Ivanhoe residents to help them beautify their own yards and the entire neighborhood. FPA also helps people establish garden plots in their yard, or they are welcome to plant in the community garden on Highland.
Tutoring – Each week, volunteers work with the children in the area elementary schools, helping with reading and math skills, or just being a friend.
Life Skills Classes – Two 8-week sessions of Learn ‘n Grow teach minor home repair issues; practical matters such as cooking, going green and weatherizing your home; fun crafts such as knitting, wreath making and mosaics; and youth issues such as studying for the driver’s ed exam and cleaning your room.
Financial Literacy & Legal Literacy – Monthly sessions of each literacy include creating and balancing a budget, repairing damaged credit, avoiding predatory lenders, learning landlord/tenant rights, and more.
Computer Classes – Thanks to the Village Ministry program, classes are offered to residents and upon completion of the 5-week course, a rebuilt computer is presented to the graduate.
Family Fitness, Fun & Food – It’s not enough to talk about getting healthy – this program provides exercise tips and healthy food preparation for participants.
Boy’s Mentoring – Targeting boys ages 8-11, men meet with boys twice a month to go on fun and/or educational outings. Between meetings, the men check on the boys to make sure things are going well in school and at home.
Academy of Opportunity – This six-week summer program for youth ages 14-16 offers instruction in economic education and the opportunity to create individual businesses in true entrepreneurial fashion.
Shoppers Club – Lack of transportation is a huge issue in the neighborhood. This program makes it possible for residents to go to shopping centers twice a month to take care of their food and personal needs.
African Heritage Festival – Each September the youth in the FPA programs sponsor a festival that includes African dance, song, art and great food.
Field Trips – A great part of the FPA mission is to get residents out of the neighborhood to experience the rest of the city. Trips to the WWI Museum, the Nelson Art Gallery, Powell Gardens, Alvin Ailey dancers and the Unicorn Theater are just a few of these great excursions.
With such a broad range of opportunities, you are sure to find a program in which you can share your time and talents. Specific, timely needs for FPA are listed below:
PAL - Partners Active in Learning - Tutors come to our area elementary schools once a week for one hour to work with two children on their reading or math skills - or to act as another caring adult in their lives. No teaching skills required.
Mentors for boys ages 8-10 - Two Saturdays a month the group of boys and their mentors meet for a variety of activities - field trips, community service projects, or just hanging out playing games. Mentors are encouraged to check in with their boy in between activities.
Minor Home Repair - Handy volunteers with home repair skills are needed to do minor work on homes - projects are as varied as installing a railing to securing a toilet to fixing a light fixture.
Yard Clean-Ups - This great opportunity for a family or a group involves partnering with an elderly person who may need some help getting their yard under control - from pulling weeds from the fence to cleaning out brush, it’s a great way to make a difference.
Attorneys - Once a month, we need a lawyer to listen to the questions and needs of a small group of residents - and to direct them to where they might go for help. No direct legal help is given - just an opinion on their particular need.
Life Skills Instructors - If you have special talent - it could be crafts or dancing or clever cleaning tips or weatherizing a home - instructors are always needed for our Saturday life skills classes. We’re open to anything!
Healthy Food Preparers - Many hands are needed to chop and peel and package ingredients for healthy meals.
Thank you to the city of Indianapolis for permission to use the Front Porch Alliance name and logo.