Across the United States, nearly 17,000 public libraries offer community members direct, and often free, access to not only books and movies but also social services, including literacy programs for children and adults, tax/financial assistance and access to high-speed internet. However, most recently during the pandemic, more than 60% of public libraries were fully closed for nearly five months.
With these closures, what once was a day-to-day commodity for many families and children became entirely inaccessible. In an effort to address the lack of resources caused by the pandemic, and to provide a more permanent solution, our team at Merchants Bank of Indiana (MBI) partnered with 501(c)(3) Merchants Affordable Housing Corp. (MAHC) to donate books, movies, puzzles and board games to affordable housing communities across Indianapolis this summer as part of a series of Book Bash events.
At these events, bookshelves were added to community spaces in three affordable housing properties managed by MAHC, including Kenwood Place, Braeburn Village and Constitution Gardens. The donations and accentuation of social spaces at these properties provide low-income residents free, on-site access to leisure activities, of which they otherwise might not have access to.
“Coordinating this donation event with MBI has allowed us to provide an even greater living and social environment for our residents,” said Kazmyn Ramos, Director of Services at MAHC. “We are committed to impacting the social determinants of our resident’s health and our incredible on-site service personnel champion that effort day in and day out. The addition of these easily accessible items will only strengthen that effort.”
The Book Bashes are part of MBI’s MPACT program, which supports the initiative of Merchants Positively Advancing Communities Together to make an “MPACT” in the communities in which we live and work. Since 2018, our company has been offering 16 PTO hours per year for employees to dedicate towards volunteer services around the state. In addition, by partnering with MAHC, we are furthering our commitment to the advancement of affordable housing both in Indianapolis and across the nation.
Since 1987, MAHC has served the Indianapolis community, originally managing one property with 74 units in downtown Indianapolis. In its 34 years, the organization has expanded to seven properties with over 2,220 affordable housing units across the state of Indiana. Through its work, MAHC identifies apartment rehabilitation and new construction projects to both preserve and enhance the affordable housing market locally and regionally.
MAHC is also actively working to provide consistent access to grocery items for residents at many of its properties on the eastside of Indianapolis. A 2018 report from SAVI, a program of The Polis Center at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI), noted that more than 200,000 Indianapolis residents living within low-income areas that have low food access, including residents within the Far Eastside. To support this effort, MAHC established multiple partnerships throughout the community with a core purpose of bettering all aspects of resident health.
To learn more about Merchants Bank of Indiana and our ongoing commitment to community, visit merchantsbankofindiana.com/about-merchants.