Ministry matters

Youth ministry group recognizes first responders with free lunch

INDIANAPOLIS — The July 4 weekend was a busy one for first responders.

While Indianapolis Fire Department firefighters responded to 904 runs, IMPD officers worked to assist 15 people who were shot and the families of three people killed by gun violence.

These incidents have an impact on first responders.

Young Men Inc. wanted to show their appreciation for the first responders by giving them a free meal.

Young Men Inc. is an outreach ministry of the Great Commission Church of God designed to empower African American men, ages 9-16.

While they showed their appreciation for first responders through a free meal, they also used it as an opportunity to help children feel more comfortable around them.

“Any time you allow opportunities like this where people can come together, you kind of compound those fears with those concerns and separate them,” Commander Michael Wolley said.

During these conversations the first responders have with the children, they discuss in detail what they are doing.

Police officers also give children advice on what to do if they get arrested, while firefighters talk with them about fire safety.

“We’ll be happy to talk to you, let you see the gear, give you an idea of ​​what it looks like, and see us with our gear,” said Ed Vanvelse, a firefighter with the Edmonton Fire Department. Indianapolis. “That way if we end up having to go see a fire in your house, you have an idea of ​​what we look like and then you’re not scared.”

These interactions are something Young Men Inc. and first responders believe works. For future sophomore Jayse Evans, these interactions and conversations helped change her opinion of first responders and what they do.

“I’ve seen first responders do bad things,” Evans said. “I always thought they were bad, I thought they were bad guys. But now that I see them doing good in the community, I’m starting to get a sweet place in my heart for them.

Such results are what the founder of Young Men Inc. aspires to.

“They all want to go home at the end of the day,” Reverend Malachi Walker said. “Anyone who is arrested by a police officer also wants to go home at the end of the day. So this relationship works but we also have to make it work.”

Officers believe that fostering these relationships at an early age and having sometimes uncomfortable conversations around the abuse can be a step towards resolving the issue.

“It’s something where we can at least have those conversations,” Wolley said. “Maybe some of the kids here are seeing something that they can feel a little more comfortable having conversations with us. If they’ve eaten with us before or been on a events with us before. So those are definitely small steps to take to get to that big picture of crime reduction.”

For more information about Young Men Inc., click here.