The Rebound Indiana: Hawthorne Community Center fills needs during pandemic

Posted at 6:00 AM, May 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-21 08:17:41-04

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INDIANAPOLIS — An Indianapolis organization is helping connect Hoosiers to resources, like housing and financial assistance, during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Nikia Thomas was staying at a shelter when she first learned of the Hawthorne Community Center.

She has five children; four under the age of 18. At the time, she was searching for daycare, but it didn’t stop there.

“I don’t even have the words to express how much they have came through for me and done for me,” Thomas said. “Just simple things that it might not seem like a lot, but when you don’t have it, it’s a lot.”

From early childhood, to before and after school programming for children, to employment help, budgeting and financial literacy, the center is working to help people.

“It’s almost like a life coach. That’s what I look at Jama as: a life coach,” Thomas said. “She helps me in places and resources, everything to help to better my life.”

Thomas works as a certified nursing assistant and had to quarantine herself for 14 days and couldn’t work. So Hawthorne helped her with rent.

“That’s a really good burden to take off of someone who is trying," Thomas said. Not just sitting at home wanting to collect.”

“There’s always a traditional need for these basic needs services," said Caleb Sutton, the Hawthorne Community Center executive director. "But the increase has been really almost exponential just looking at the weekly calls that we are getting,”

Because of the pandemic, the executive director says they’ve had to build emergency response teams focused on food and housing for people who were impacted, on top of their regular clients.

“A large majority of the community don’t have the financial assets to really weather any kind of economic hardships,” Sutton said.

Working with up to 600 people a week, Thomas is a testament — in her words — of how Hawthorne is lifting people up who really need it in the community.

“I just want to tell everybody to go check them out,” Thomas said.

For more information on resources from the community center, you can visit its website.