Written by William Bryant Rozier
The Oxford Community Association is set within the boundary lines south of Pontiac St., West of Anthony Blvd., North of Rudisill Blvd., and East of Lafayette St.
The Oxford Association building sits at 1421 Oxford St., directly across from that new gas station at Holton Ave. and Oxford, an indisputable and insurmountable fact the association members don’t want in their history books. It’s another gas station.
Think about it…somebody had to take note of it in an association’s minutes for a board meeting at least once, so it’s become lore. Any forward-walking, heads-up person leaving 1421 Oxford Street will, at a minimum, glance it, so it’s unavoidable.
It’s alright though. Things are poppin’. Fort Wayne has over 400 community associations, but only about 200 of them are active, according to Oxford Community Association Trustee Diane Rogers. Oxford Community Association is one of the alive ones.
The colors on the signage are faded, but as of April 26, 2018, the association has been awarded a commercial facade grant from the city to make it sing like Aretha.
The fire hydrants out front and down the street in both directions have recently been repainted by the Oxford neighborhood kids with a fresher coat of yellow. The re-painting and trash collecting was part of the association’s efforts to remove blight, bring new life, and empower future impacters on deck.
“We want to start teaching our kids to be an inspiration for other children,” said Oxford Community Association Trustee Diane Rogers, and “try to motivate them for the purpose of living.” And hopefully their community trash pick-up will translate to helping mom out more.
Awareness is also a lesson learned. One of the Oxford kids, Williams, ventured into a board meeting through an open front door he felt comfortable enough, and at home enough, to enter. He asked what was happening and was told. “That’s what we want for all of our children,” Rogers said.
Four of the Oxford kids (William Holley Jr., Naima Esters, I’jan-aiya James, and David Hunter) recently received an Academic Encouragement Award from the Wayne Township Trustee’s office. The award was created by Trustee Richard A. Stevenson Sr. The four children received the awards for their repainting work and their assistance with the 2017-18 Great American Cleanup. They received a certificate and computer tablets.
The Oxford Association is building a youth council to find “brilliant kids,” Rogers said, to lead others and pass down social responsibility.
According to Rogers, more home owners lived in the neighborhood when the association started, so their focus was more concentrated, but the neighborhood now includes more rentals, replete with a diverse population that includes residents from Myanmar.
So the association has to change with it and that includes partnering with the Vincent Village/Vincent House reclamation project that is building new homes in the Renaissance Pointe YMCA area. Some of the Vincent Village’s homes will be constructed in the Oxford Association neighborhood.
More homes mean more diverse families, with specific needs that didn’t exist when the association started.
So, “there’s no sense to create new programs when there are already programs [in existence], run by experts at what they do,” Rogers said. Not wanting to reinvent the wheel, the Oxford Association will use the building at 1421 Oxford as a hub for neighboring community associations, for programs already in existence, and “to bring the community knowledge of what they need to do achieve their dreams,” Rogers said.
The creation of the hub, according to Rogers, is to have a ripple effect, extending education, knowledge, trust, training and whatever else is needed, like a health fair or a training facility in the community room.
Fort Wayne UNITED, the mayoral initiative that advocates for black fathers, brothers, and sons, have begun talks with the Oxford Association about future collaborations, and the City of Fort Wayne will be partnering with the association on new projects in the future.
“Hope with action and accountability. I know that’s what Mary Morris wanted,” said Rogers, about the late founder of the Oxford Community Association. Morris’ legacy was recently honored on August 8, 2018 when the Fort Wayne Housing Authority recognized all of her work with the agency.
The resource center over at the McCormick Community Department was renamed after Mary Morris in a ceremony. Morris helped stabilize her community by finding new ways for struggling citizens to become homeowners.
And, Rogers said, “our current neighborhood president Charlene Jones is actually fulfilling some of those dreams today.”
The Oxford Community Association is raising funds through a capital campaign for renovations needed at the Oxford Community Association building. To donate, hit up their Facebook page (Oxford Community Association) for an informational video and a link to their GoFundMe page.
For more information about the Oxford Community Association, contact trustee Diane Rogers at 260.418.2316 or president Charlene Jones at 260.348.9405.