Volunteers and staff at the Marion Center for Success are still working together to recover from the break-ins last summer.
Center for Success is an after school program for kindergarten through 12th grade students. The center offers free services including emotional and social well being, health tips, education programs and team building activities.
According to Director Erika Horner, there were a series of break-ins at the center that started in the beginning of July this past summer. She said 13 windows were broken out and storage areas were ransacked. Horner also said two laptops, a master key, snacks and Christmas gifts for the children were stolen. To this day, the Marion Police Department has not been able to find who broke in and stole these items.
Horner was able to rally a team of volunteers to help clean up the glass, board up the windows and clean up other damages to the building.
D.J. Ikeler, the president of the Center for Success Network, said he felt discouraged when first finding out about the break-ins.
“We’re trying so hard to do good here, why are people not respecting that?” Ikeler said he was thinking during the time of the break-ins.
But Ikeler said it turned into a positive situation because of the people who came together to help them clean up and others who donated and did whatever they could to help.
“It was one of those days where it was like what the enemy meant for evil God used for good,” Ikeler said. “It was really cool to watch the Marion community come together and support us.”
Janet Andrews, a volunteer for the center, said their team has worked on seeing the break-in as positive.
“We kind of went on and said ‘we’re not going to let this get us down,’” Andrews said. “It seems like it was an outpouring of the community of the kids coming and supporting the center.”
Now, Horner and Ikeler said the break-ins have caused them to spend more money to work on repairing damages and to replace the Christmas gifts. But they said a lot of people have stepped up to help, such as two Indiana Wesleyan University graduates paying for two new laptops for them.
Horner said her staff is also thinking of creative ways to replace the windows. Along with business sponsors having its logo on the windows, Horner said they are looking for local artists who want to design murals as well.
Ikeler said the break-ins are one of the results of being in an area of poverty. He also said instead of letting this get him down, it makes him excited about his job even more than before.
“This is the whole point of why we do what we do because if we didn’t help kids and we didn’t try to empower kids to be successful and try to teach them a better way, then things like this would continue happening,” Ikeler said. “But my hope is that 10 years from now, it won’t happen because we would have impacted so many kids in the city that that’s not the mindset of the kids.”