Citywide Movement Builds Social Infrastructure in Auburn
By Mayor Mike Ley
When I took office in January of this year, my focus for the year ahead was collaboration. Never could I have imagined how this year would turn out, nor just how much collaboration would be needed.
Collaboration among city departments, as well as the city and private stakeholders, is necessary as we strive to provide many of the physical infrastructures our residents and businesses rely on daily—electric, water, roads, etc. Likewise, we need collaboration to provide a social infrastructure—one that’s equipped to address social issues like addiction, domestic violence and poverty. These issues have long existed, but many have become more prevalent and visible since the onset of COVID.
Citywide Movement Serves as Central Hub
I believe this citywide movement (shared with you in previous blogs—see here) is key to building that social infrastructure. We have many resources in our community, and many people to advocate on behalf of them. What we need is more coordination and collaboration among providers. The citywide movement provides a way to foster that. In fact, I think it serves as the central hub of the collaboration.
The citywide movement began in early 2020 with a small but dedicated group of Auburn leaders—representing government, education, non-profits, businesses and faith-based organizations—banding together to address systemic issues facing our community. Like most things in 2020, our efforts got derailed a bit due to COVID. But we’re picking up steam again.
Connecting Organizations and People
Right now, our main focus is connecting organizations with each other, so everyone is aware of what’s available in the community, how we can support each other’s goals and, perhaps most importantly, how to support those in need of services.
Recently, I had the opportunity to meet with members of the DeKalb County Domestic Violence Task Force, the YWCA Northeast Indiana, Hearten House and the Auburn Police Department (APD). As our city’s top advocates against domestic violence, we came together to sign a proclamation renewing our commitment to prevent domestic violence. Together, we’re striving to create a community that is supportive and safe for victims of domestic violence.
Our focus is not only connecting organizations together, but also connecting people to organizations. Frequently, the Mayor’s Office receives calls about social issues. We strive to connect each person to an organization to get the help they need, when they need it.
Putting the Spotlight on Community Partners
Additionally, because I believe so strongly in the need for our city leadership to know about the vital social service organizations in our city, I’ve begun inviting a different non-profit community partner to join us at City Council each month. Each organization shares their mission, primary services and most pressing needs. To date, we’ve had Image of Hope Ranch, Hearten House, NeighborLink DeKalb County and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northeast Indiana share their mission with us.
Neighbors Loving Neighbors
I get excited thinking about what this citywide movement can do for Auburn. The last several months and, in reality, COVID has helped me recognize its value and importance even more today than when I took office. Only positive can result from it. The citywide movement is all about neighbors loving neighbors. As we do this, people will thrive—and when people thrive, so does the community. That’s strength in community and my prayer for all of us.
If you or your organization is interested in being part of the citywide movement, I encourage you to reach out to Brandy Coburn at BMCoburn@ci.auburn.in.us.