Hamilton Proper resident Leigh Ann Louderback meets this definition of volunteer. Her passion to give back to our community is something that she and husband, Russ, wish to instill as important values with their children.
“Volunteering can happen at any age and it is true that one volunteer can make a difference,” Louderback stated. “It was six years ago that I was lucky enough to be introduced to the Junior League of Indianapolis by my very good friend Debbie Klinger.” Three years ago, Louderback joined a committee of the Junior League at the St. Mary’s Child Center, with two locations in the city (one downtown and one at the Fort).
The St. Mary’s Child Center is a nationally accredited Early Childhood Program that provides high-quality education and services to families of very low income, specifically disadvantaged 3-to-5-year-old children. These at-risk children suffer life- long learning and emotional problems. Their risk factors include poverty, physical and sexual abuse, neglect, violence, caretakers with disabilities or substance addictions and very under- stimulating environments. These factors rapidly decrease the potential for a successful school life or personal life. Louderback and other volunteers devote their time and talents to enhance the services that the St. Mary’s Child Center provides.
Volunteers are needed on a daily basis to assist children in various activities. These children are starved for attention.
“It was not unusual for me to hold a preschooler during most of my 3-and-a-half-hour shifts,” Louderback explained. “Playing and laughing with loving adults is something they just do not experience at home. Positive interaction with teachers and volunteers is what these kids need, and it is what they get at the Center during either their morning or afternoon session. Something as simple as reading a book or stacking blocks could create the most wonderful sounds of laughter, if even for a little while.”
St. Mary’s has a mission statement that every child deserves a childhood that allows the child to be successful in early years, in school and as an adult. St. Mary’s Child Center has partnerships with many community- based agencies. Indianapolis Public Schools and the Metropolitan School District of Lawrence Township provide speech, occupational, physical and resource services for children who qualify. They provide programming for children from IPS and Lawrence Township who have been identified as having disabilities. Additionally, there is a research study with Lawrence Township Schools and Indiana University regarding the placement of minority children in special education.
The program is a work in progress, and since its establishment in 1961, St. Mary’s Child Center has provided the love and care needed to establish these at-risk preschoolers to the best start in life… what all children deserve.
“By volunteering and supporting this wonderful facility, we can ensure that the next 50 years of operation will continue to provide help to these most deserving of children. If you would be interested in learning more about the services of the St. Mary’s Child Center, please log onto their website at www.stmaryschildcenter.org,” suggests Louderback.
We encourage you to nominate a business or individual that incorporates giving back to the community or to charity as a standard part of their business practice. Each month we will select a business to recognize as the “Geist Gives Corporate Citizen of the Month.” The selected business will receive a case of gourmet coffee courtesy of Mission Coffee & Tea Company. To make a nomination for Geist Gives, visit www.atgeist.com.