Rebuilding their village

March 21, 2019

Wendy Robinson, superintendent of Fort Wayne Community Schools, on Wednesday challenged about 300 people to consider what they can do for children.

“If you remember the old saying, ‘It takes a village,’ our problem today isn’t the kids,” Robinson told an audience at The Summit. “The problem today is we don’t have a village anymore.”

Robinson was the keynote speaker for the Euell A. Wilson Center’s annual Courageous Luncheon, a free event for community members and leaders. The theme was “Let Love Reign.” The center, which celebrated its 25th anniversary last year, serves youth and families through education, engagement and empowerment programs with a focus on faith, family and service.

Shirley Woods started the center in her backyard in May 1993 following the death of her son : the facility’s namesake : who died of natural causes at age 19 the previous November. It now operates at 1512 Oxford St. and has a gym at 1717 Wabash Ave.

Woods described herself as “gung-ho” on sharing God’s love with young people.

“Our kids need to know life is going to give you a bad hand. It’s going to happen,” Woods said. “But what would your response be to that bad hand? You don’t lay down. You don’t wobble.

“You get up, and you remember, ‘God’s love will reach in no matter where I am at,’” she continued. “That’s why we’re on the corner. That’s why we keep repeating the same thing, over and over and over ... God loves you.”

Luncheon attendees were encouraged to support the Euell A. Wilson Center, such as through financial donations or volunteering their time or expertise.

“It takes a lot of people, it takes a lot of time, it takes money to impact kids the way this center has done it for the last 25 years,” event emcee Curtis Smith said.

FWCS also relies on community support, said Robinson, who said state funding increases are minimal.

“We’re changing what we do with no support from the state, and you know how we make it?” Robinson said. “People in this community. There’s not a single organization that we don’t partner with.”

Robinson challenged attendees to make a difference in a child’s life. “What do you do after you leave lunch? Even if you can’t volunteer at the center, what child are you helping?” she asked.

Even one person can make an impact, she said, adding, “You don’t need 50 people to do something good.”