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  • Writer's pictureRachel Nelson

Learning Gutter Repairs to help Ralph

Earlier this year we had the Indiana Public Safety Foundation (IPSF) out with the IMPD Cadets. IPSF is a nonprofit that helps support the 3200 women and men who serve in the public safety space in Indianapolis. One part of their relationship with IMPD is the IMPD Cadet program. This program focuses on 18 to 22 year olds who are interested in working with the IMPD. The program helps bridge the gap of interest to the age when they may apply to be a police officer.

The Cadets are assigned civilian roles within the IMPD as well as given opportunities to go out into the communities they serve in and build relationships with community members. Typically in the summer months, Cadets are active in events throughout the city. This summer the events were canceled. We were thankful to be connected with NeighborLink Indianapolis to provide a great opportunity for our IMPD Cadets to get out in the community for service.

The homeowner served with this project was Mr. Ralph Butler. Butler had been an active community member for decades. He even ran for a State House seat for District 51 in the 80’s.

At the time he was a self-employed contractor and a graduate of Ball State University looking to shake up the political scene. Butler acquired his home through a shrewd business deal in a neighborhood that, at the time, was thriving. He has owned his home for more than 20 years and though it does show signs of disrepair, and his neighborhood has turned rougher, Ralph loves it.

“I take pride in my work and my home,” said Ralph. “If it weren’t for my legs I would be up on a ladder doing that work myself and wouldn’t need to call NeighborLink.” Ralph points to his legs that now require a cane or crutches to amble around. To prove his point, Ralph made his way around to small projects that needed doing; tightening his house numbers with a screwdriver, Moving some scrap wood to the back of the property, and other such tiny touches that homeowners do.

Many of the IMPD Cadets that joined for the gutter repair project had never worked on gutters before, several were familiar with hand tools though. One Cadet, Ben Wilson, noted that he’s had many years of volunteer experience—he had never tackled gutters before.

“I’ve never done any gutter work before until today but with the help of everyone here, it doesn’t seem like a hard task to complete.” Ben continued on. “Everyone is helpful and takes the time to help explain the task.”

The Gutter Team is one of NeighborLink Indianapolis’ volunteer teams that regularly goes into the community to help with gutter repair projects for clients. For this project, the Gutter Team paired up with the Indiana Public Safety Foundation to help the IMPD Cadets learn the basics of fixing gutters. Our Gutter Team members helped guide the IPD Cadets with measurements, tips for tools, and walked them through how to fix some of the quirks you run into with old homes. Cadet Ben certainly learned a lot from one of our team members and credits that for such a good volunteer experience. However, his motivation drives deeper than just a single experience.

“To volunteer in the community that one day I will serve means a lot,” said Ben.”It's a greater impact knowing you’re helping other people more than yourself, and giving time to help give back to the community that I hope to serve one day.”

We have a lot of hope for our communities with IMPD Cadets like these helping to build neighbors back up and sustain the homes and communities that mean so much to them.

If you have a group of volunteers who are willing to learn a new skill or two and would love to get involved with NeighborLink Indianapolis, we would love to schedule a group project with you for 2021! Contact us or fill out our group volunteer form to get the ball rolling.

If you'd like to see us launch into 2021 ready to take on more homes like Mr. Butler's, donate to our Tools for 20 Campaign and help us have funding for 20 homes right at the start of 2021.

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