Editor’s note: Rosie O’Grady is co-chair of the Northwest Area Partnership of neighborhoods. The Your Neighbor column is written by a member of a local nonprofit group and appears frequently in Neighbors.
As we begin our 17th year as being a city neighborhood partnership, it might be helpful to give a little history on its growth.
It all began in the early ’90s, during Mayor Paul Helmke’s administration, when the term “Community Oriented Government” was first coined. What this phrase simply means is the governing would be in accordance of the people’s wishes and their election of the correct leaders to do so.
If you could imagine turning the government pyramid upside down, instead of the leadership at the top and the people at the bottom, it would be reversed.
It first began with one neighborhood advocate, Barbara Schoppman, and several assistants who fielded questions and concerns and got back with the caller with the answer. Over the years and through different administrations, the city would be divided into four quadrants, each with its own leadership put in place to best serve the people’s needs.
Fast-forward to today, and we once again have a single neighborhood advocate, Palermo Galindo, who today is basically assisted by the 311 call center. Many parts of the original program have been changed.
For instance, if you had a problem in the early days, you would first approach your neighborhood association for their help. If they could not help, you would go to the Community Service Committee (now defunct), and if help wasn’t available there, it would be appealed directly to the mayor.
Many changes have taken place, mostly to prevent an overload of calls directly to City Council members and to make sure the concern gets directed to the correct city department.
We use many methods to get our role in the community out to the people. Having lost mailing to all members, we have resorted to emailing those giving us their email addresses, being on Facebook (www.facebook.com/NWAPartnership) and having our own website (www.neighborhoodlink.com/NWAP).
We also use this newspaper column, can be contacted by calling the 311 call center and, of course, hold our monthly meeting at 6:30 p.m. every third Thursday of each month at Northridge Baptist Church, except for taking off July and December.
Our officers and board are elected with alternating two-year terms, and our books are audited annually. As far as finances go, we began with “seed money” at the beginning generated by all four quadrants sponsoring a breakfast at Three Rivers Festival and exist on the generosity of our many neighborhoods, who understand and appreciate the work we try to do.
Our mission statement best explains our existence: “The Northwest Area Partnership purpose shall be to strengthen and support neighborhood associations; identify and assist in problem solving; and be a bridge between neighborhood associations, the city of Fort Wayne and the County of Allen, Indiana. It shall function as a nonpartisan, nonsectarian and nonprofit organization to promote increased communications and cooperation among its members.”
We look forward to this new year filled with hopes and challenges and to welcome back old members and invite new ones who aren’t aware of our existence. We have very interesting meetings and serve refreshments, so you are all invited.