Story by Nick Kellis
Heartland Image Foundation
LIMA – It was a chilly Monday for a walk of solidarity, followed by a warm meal and warm sentiments inside Lima’s Mizpah Community Center at 1802 S. Central Ave. A quartet sang gospel music and prayers were shared honoring the message and example of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who said “We must live together as brothers or perish together as fools.”
Mizpah Center Director and doctoral candidate Vickie Shurelds was joined by Mizpah supporter and Lima Police Chief Kevin J. Martin for the walk, then the meal and observance afterward, where the theme was building on King’s example of working towards community cooperation and collaboration.
“In a lot of ways, people feel that an urban community such as ours and the police department can’t work together, when that’s the complete opposite,” said Shurelds, who was named the Director of the Mizpah Community Center at the end of 2012, after a long history of serving as a volunteer.
“When people drive by and they see police cruisers in our parking lot, I want them to know immediately that we have a friendship. That the Lima Police Department cares about the people that are in this community. The children just love him (Chief Martin) and he talks to them about what he does. And it’s a wonderful thing to see and experience.”
Lima Police Chief Martin said communities cannot be satisfied with status quo and that police departments need to take action to bridge any trust gap that might exist. “And the only way we’re going to be able to do that is actually getting out in the community. Getting involved in real people’s lives, in positive ways,” Martin said.
“And Vickie has always opened up the Mizpah Center to give members of the Lima police department an opportunity to get involved with people in a positive way, and to help build those relationships to establish that trust that is needed. No police agency can succeed if we do not have the trust of the community we serve. And (Shurelds) just makes opportunities available to us to better build that trust.
“I’ve said this to Vickie before, she is truly a hero to me. Because in the years I’ve known her, all I’ve ever seen her do is give. I’ve never seen her expect anything in return. Talk about someone who gives to the community, because it’s the right thing to do. She doesn’t need any other motivation besides that, so she really is a hero.”
In addition to the complimentary meal, Mizpah Kits for the Homeless were handed out. The free cold weather essentials kits were made possible by generous donations of time and resources from Lima / Allen County businesses, donors and other supporting organizations and volunteers.
Nick Kellis graduated from The Ohio State University with a degree in print journalism, before producing over 100 hours of broadcast TV for national networks. He is the president of the Lima-based Heartland Image Foundation, an IRS-determined Public Charity that specializes in media education and production of HD video content, promoting positive messages and community image-enhancement. Their mission is an on-going campaign to create professional, quality content for both the local population and regional, national and world-wide perception. Learn more at heartlandimage.org.