Waynedale Political Commentaries


The winter holiday season has begun, and while we each look forward to our happy and abundant gift-giving celebrations I also remember the less fortunate people in our community who are the reason for our existence here at the Wayne Township Trustee Office. Recently, Brian Francisco of the Journal Gazette posted a story about the fact that the ZIP codes with both the highest and the lowest levels of poverty in Indiana are located here in Allen County. The ZIP code with the highest poverty level is 46803 and is an area that lies in both Wayne and Adams Townships.

“Nearly 51% of the residents of the 46803, on the southeast side of Fort Wayne, live below the poverty line, compared with only 0.7% of the residents of the 46765, in the rural Leo-Cedarville area. The statewide poverty rate is 13.5%.”

Wayne Township contains parts of nine other ZIP codes besides 46803. Across our township, over 22% percent of the population falls below the national poverty level, and a whopping 39% of our children live below that line.

Many years before I became township trustee, I worked as a staff member at the Allen County Economic Opportunity Council (now known as Brightpoint). While I had grown up experiencing some tight economic conditions, that job showed me how truly devastating and overwhelming poverty could be, damaging families, children, marriages and the community at large.

Being poor means much more than just not having enough money to pay bills. Poverty encompasses all aspects of life, from health care to child care to employment to self-esteem and mental health. It involves not just whether or not you have a job, but having a job that pays enough to support a family.

During the time I have been in office, Wayne Township has been not only a safety net but also a dedicated partner helping our clients to seek improvement and growth in themselves and their families.

During 2019 our Employment Training Center has had a record year helping clients get on their feet and find meaningful work. We did this by identifying clients’ skills, assisting them in eliminating barriers to working and then linking them with employers who were hiring. Our assistance sometimes included helping clients get their GEDs, training them in resume writing, providing them with job skills and training and giving them the confidence they needed to improve their situation.

We have also focused on the children of Wayne Township through our scholarship programs, our school supplies store, our Clothing Emporium and our food programs. Our children are our future and their potential is a beacon of hope that poverty doesn’t have to be forever.

With both Indiana’s richest and poorest ZIP codes being only 11 miles apart here it seems that Allen County is at ground zero of the income inequality problem that is raging across our nation and the world. None of us have all the answers, but as we enter another holiday season that economists predict will be a boon for retailers and the economy, here at the township we will keep thinking of and looking out for all of our citizens, especially those who are struggling.

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Richard A. Stevenson - Wayne Township Trustee

Wayne Township Trustee Rick Stevenson was elected Trustee in November of 2006 and took office in January of 2007. He is very passionate about helping those in need and considers it a privilege to be in a position to be able to help. > Read Full Biography > More Articles Written By This Writer