INDIANAPOLIS — A small grassroots organization in Indianapolis is expanding the way they serve their east side community, thanks to a grant from the city.
"Everything that we do, it's an answer from the cry from the streets," said Pastor Charles Neal with Brookside Community Church on North Olney Street, near 10th Street and Sherman Drive.
They were awarded $250,000 through the grant program, which will help them improve the wellness of the community they serve, one that is currently struggling with addiction.
"It can be sex addiction, lying addiction. Whatever the struggle is, we have a place where they can come and feel safe and talk out these situations," Pastor Neal said. "We have many individuals who are on some type of oversight, parole, probation, community correction."
Through one-on-one counseling, he and his staff can provide comfort, housing and even help with getting paid jobs.
"We help with those resources, but what we've found is that they fall off because people's mental health is not stable," Melanie Heck Weidman, Intervention Recovery Coordinator at Brookside.
Weidman said, despite their success, they don't have the training to treat mental health, which is the downfall when it comes to those they help having breakdowns.
"So then they lose that job, and they fall back into what we're trying to get them out of," Weidman said.
But that will soon change. Thanks to that $250,000 grant from the elevation program, they now have money for mental health professionals in their re-entry program.
"We will be able to hire an in-house licensed mental health counselor, and that will serve as the connector between minor mental health and severe mental health. So, that person will be able to help train us to see signs and symptoms of things that we could handle in-house that are more minor," Weidman said.
So far this year, Brookside has been able to help 250 people off the street, and they hope now that number will grow heading into the fall and winter.
"We're going to be able to help kids. We're going to be able to help families' parents. We're going to be able to help the elderly in our community," Weidman said. "It's going to impact hundreds - if not thousands - of people because it's a trickle-down effect."
Weidman said the licensed mental health counselor will be starting on Aug. 22.