Insight from our community ambassadors

“Before you have grass, you have roots. Before you have roots, you have seeds. You need to understand what the seed needs to grow. You can’t go in and give it something if you don’t understand what it needs,” Beatrice Beverly, community ambassador for Martindale Brightwood, explained to angel investors at an event on May 31.

The philosophy Beatrice spoke of—truly, deeply understanding a need before declaring a solution—is the foundation of our ambassador program. CICF and its affiliates, The Indianapolis Foundation and Legacy Fund, are building meaningful partnerships and relationships in order to better serve the Marion County and Hamilton County communities by listening to the voices that live here.

Beatrice was joined at the event by Annie Smith, ambassador for the Far Eastside, and Tami Wanninger, ambassador for Westfield. The three women are part of 36 total ambassadors that spent time last year talking to their neighbors. The ambassador program is part of a driving force that is influencing and informing the new strategic direction of CICF, The Indianapolis Foundation and Legacy Fund and has been instrumental in deepening relationships with the community.

Here’s a peek at what ambassadors shared:

Access to Resources

“What you may not know is that Hamilton County is the number one food insecure county in the state of Indiana. It has been for the last four years.”
—Tami, Westfield

“She [a woman raising her grandchildren], has to go from 25th and Keystone to 56th and Keystone for a grocery store. Oh, and I failed to tell you, she doesn’t have a car. Here we have a grandmother who has all these children she is raising, and all she wants is a grocery store.”
–Beatrice, Martindale Brightwood

“It’s having access to the kinds of things that give us joy, that put a smile on your face.”
—Annie, Far Eastside

the Community

“Our kids aren’t growing up and saying, ‘I want to grow up and kill someone just so I can survive.’ They don’t do that. It is not within their means to even understand that. They are pushed and at a point they feel like there is no return because they see the destitute of their neighborhood. I see it, too. I grew up in it. There was a zoo in Martindale Brightwood, now there is no zoo. People didn’t say ‘Now, we’re going to go where everything else went.’ It’s not that simple.”
– Beatrice, Martindale Brightwood

“Every single person has hope. They believe that it is going to be better. They can see it. What we need to do is have someone like CICF strategically lay out the plan on how to do it.”
—Annie, Far Eastside

On Creating a Lasting Impact:

“You have to build a relationship. When you [institutions] come in, they don’t trust you because you’re in and out. It takes one person to stop driving through these neighborhoods. Go meet people. It starts with a relationship.”
—Beatrice, Martindale Brightwood

“Being a convener of conversations is important, and so is acting on those conversations. We all have the families and networks of people. We could be working together and collaborating more.”
—Tami, Westfield

“We can’t just run out there and do something. You have to be authentic, sincere. People can see through it. We know when you are real and authentic and really have the work in your heart.”
—Annie, Far Eastside

The work of our ambassadors has had a profound influence on our approach to serving the community. CICF has continued these conversations with the ambassadors and their neighbors in For Good, a CICF podcast available at on our website or on your podcast app.

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