Wellspring’s roots began in 1968 when five downtown congregations (Emmanuel Lutheran, First Presbyterian, St. John’s United Church of Christ, Trinity English Lutheran and Wayne Street Methodist) plus the YWCA joined together to bring it to life. At its inception, the main purpose was providing summer programs for youth who lived in Fort Wayne’s West Central neighborhood.
Pastors Bill Moody of First Presbyterian and Arnold Pierson of Trinity English Lutheran played key roles in the formation of the program. In fact, Reverend Moody was hired as the first executive director and served in that position until 1989. Andrea Thomas became the second executive director, serving in her position until she retired at the end of 2004. Francis M. Zirille began his duties as executive director in January 2005.
Initially, the agency was called West Central Neighborhood Summer Program but was later changed to West Central Neighborhood Committee. In 1989, members of the board voted to change the name to West Central Neighborhood Ministry. In June 2004, the name was changed to Wellspring. One reason for the modification was that the organization was serving a much broader population base than just the West Central area. Over 85% of those who take part in Wellspring programs live within a two-mile radius of the downtown area. A high percentage of participants in the youth and older adult programs reside in the core of the city, but not in the West Central area.
From the early years, the organization quickly expanded to offer a variety of programs that focus on the educational, social, physical and recreational needs of adults and youth.
Over a one-year period, Wellspring directly affects the lives of nearly 3,000 individuals through its direct service programming.
Strong community assistance comes from volunteers, financial contributions and in-kind support. That help comes from over 200 individuals, 40 community organizations, sixteen congregations and several companies and several companies that assist in implementing Wellspring’s major program areas. These include the Older Adult, Youth Summer Day Camp, Youth After School, Parent Club and Food Bank programs.In addition, a new program, Our Place of Wellspring, has been initiated. Its goal is to offer support to homeless and transient teens and young adults, ages 16-21.
Grace has an ongoing collection for Wellspring. Donations of dish soap, bath tissue, and feminine hygeine products are needed. All donations can be placed in the large blue tote labeled “WellSpring” in the coat room.
Click HERE for a link to Wellspring Interfaith Social Services