Inspire U: The Podcast
BHM: Reclaiming Our History

Audio Included in Post. Runs 13 Minutes. ©2010 WTLC/Radio One. Christamore House, which has served Haughville and Indianapolis’ Westside for 105 years is in the most serious financial crisis in its history.  Seven people were laid off and programs at the center have been sharply curtailed. Christamore House Board members Joe Brown and Reggie Walton appeared on Afternoons with Amos to brief the community about the crisis. United Way President/CEO Ellen Annala also commented on what United Way is doing to help Christamore House in a crisis so serious it could permanently close the historic community center.  Hear Amos’ interview with Christamore House Board Members and Untied Way’s Annala above.  Read Christamore House’s Statement below.

Christamore House Fights to Keep Serving Clients’ Needs

The Christamore House announced today that it is reducing staff and is in danger of temporarily reducing services to its clients if funds cannot be raised to cover operational expenses and to reduce its debt.

Christamore House Board chairperson Dr. Shenia Suggs stated, “If we can raise $200,000 in the next 120 days from the Christamore House Guild Gala and other fundraising efforts, we can get through 2010 and start fresh in 2011 with leaner staffing and a new, focused approach to core program services.”

The Christamore House, founded in 1905 by two Butler college students, has as its mission to promote the general welfare of residents in the near west side community near downtown Indianapolis and the IUPUI campus.

The financial difficulties began to emerge in early summer when The Christamore House continued to meet the growing needs for client services, which had increased 375 percent since 2008, while donations had decreased 46 percent since 2009.

The Christamore House Board and the Christamore House Guild, a separately incorporated non-profit, hired advisors to conduct an assessment, as well as, an interim executive director to replace the executive director who was on maternity leave.  The executive director has since resigned.

Dr. Shenia Suggs stated, “This organization has been historically underfunded, and the unexpected economic crisis has resulted in a demand for services that also has been unprecedented.  We are currently reevaluating closely all of our services and financials, as well as, searching for new income revenues.”

“We are reorganizing with a renewed concentration on directing resources to the clients and more connected service delivery to empower clients to be self-sustaining. We will rebuild. ” stated Suggs.

In the next 90 days, Christamore House will take a number of tough steps to control costs, including:

  • Reducing staff from 19 to 12 or fewer, retaining cores services of early childhood education, senior citizens, and family support services. After-school care and teen programs will be temporarily closed after fall break as the organization reviews fees and delivery options;
  • Forming an advisory group of Board leadership, Guild members and community leaders to evaluate and strengthen Board roles, develop a new vision aligned with core services, and identify steps for stabilizing the organization;
  • Investigating strategic partnerships with other service organizations;
  • Seeking a dramatic increase in donations from individuals, corporations, churches and civic groups;
  • Setting fundraising record for Christamore House Guild’s Gala on November 6, which highlights Christamore’s boxing program run by PAL. The event is themed “Vegas Fight Night:  Fighting for another 100 Years.”

“The members of the Christamore House Guild stand behind the need for the organization and will help them rebuild,” stated Anne-Marie Dezelan, president of the Guild. “Our theme could not be more fitting as we fight to keep the doors open.”

Long-time former executive director and Haughville resident Olgen Williams, now deputy mayor of the City of Indianapolis, has volunteered to help the organization get back on its feet.

“This is still a very viable, important organization to this city. Its services are direly needed on the near West side,” said Williams.

Christamore House is located at 502 N. Tremont Avenue, Indianapolis, IN  46222.