INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) - An Indianapolis pastor is on a mission to improve the lives of people in his northwest side neighborhood.
Ten days ago Pastor John Girton pitched a tent at strip mall at the corner of Martin Luther King, Jr. and 30th Streets vowing to make it his home for one month.
It's not a place most would choose to camp out. It's an area known for crime and violence, but that's the reason he's here.
"We're here to meet the need of the community in a proactive way," Girton said. "We're trying to do what the community asked for in 2015. They asked for help with finding jobs, family law issues, getting our youth involved in activities."
Girton's first camp out took place in September of 2015 after a rash of homicides. Not far from his tent are three wooden crosses. They represent the three people killed during the month he was here.
While that first camp out was meant to call attention to the crime and violence, this one is focused on finding solutions and helping those in need. He has been updating the public through photos and live video on his Facebook page.
Girton now has a space in the strip mall, which he calls his resource center, where people can get job training or talk to an on-call psychotherapist.
Girton said dozens of people drop by each day.
"I've seen everything...from people who are needing to get beyond addictions, to those who come and really pour their hearts out," he said. "I think the spirit of the tent represents trust and love, so it takes people a while to trust you and pour your heart out, but what we're seeing is if people talk long enough you get to see what they really need."
He said some are dealing with homelessness issues, others are looking for jobs or help with family matters.
"We're trying to provide solutions, not just give them what they want, but instead give them what they need to be successful and not fall into the same hole or trap," Girton said.
He hopes others join in the effort.
"You don't have to sleep in a tent," he said. "you can donate money, pray with us or volunteer. This community needs resources and people are happy to know we're available to them."