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  • Ellen Whitt

The Smith's Bean Creek Neighborhood Home

Tom Smith and his wife Kim have lived happily for 35 years in a sturdy older home built around 1915 in the neighborhood where Tom grew up. In fact, his childhood home where he moved as a five-year-old, is just across the street. Their present home had been owned by Tom’s father as a rental property, before the Smiths decided to purchase it and raise their own children there.

Their neighborhood, Bean Creek just east of Garfield Park, is one with longtime family connections. Tom said that the little school down the street (Eleanor Skillen School 34) was one of the draws to returning to the area. The Eleanor Skillen School has a 123-year history and prides itself on being “The Kindest School in Town!” Tom’s grandfather attended there (in a very small building up on the hill) many years before Tom himself was an IPS 34 student. Then the next generation of Smith children, along with some of their cousins, followed the tradition. The Smiths liked being right up the street if any of the children needed anything during the school day.

Tom did construction work his whole life until nerve damage sidelined him from physical labor. He said their home was conveniently located near the interstate to allow him easy access to job sites in different parts of the city. Because he had experience in the building trades, it was particularly hard for him to see what needed to be done on his property with an old garage that was crumbling, and yet no longer be in a position to do the work himself. His son braced the structure for him, but ultimately the Board of Health gave the Smiths notice that it would need to be taken down.

The Smiths connected with NeighborLink Indy (NLI) through a contact at the Board of Health. Tom said when he called the number he was given he wasn’t sure what to expect. He was impressed from the beginning with the NLI staff and volunteers with whom he interacted. They sent someone to his home to assess the situation and to see if the Smiths qualified for assistance. After the initial visit, the work was scheduled. The day of the teardown a church group with a number of young people came to help the more experienced staff and volunteers who led the effort.

Tom said those who came to their aid were “heaven sent” as far as he was concerned. The garage came down in “no time” and things were chopped up and cleared away. It has meant a lot to the Smiths to be able to reclaim their big, fenced-in backyard for their grandkids to run around and play, free from any concern that the garage might fall.

The Smiths encourage anyone who is unable or can’t afford to do home repairs that will keep them safely enjoying their home to reach out to NeighborLink Indy: “The people are nice and the work was excellent!”

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