Hopes & Dreams for Indy Communities

Forty-four years ago, a group of Southwest side residents in Indianapolis had a GREAT idea.

They would organize to bring about something that hadn’t been done before in their neighborhood: the availability of affordable, quality health care for people who needed it, but didn’t have access to it.

To reach their dream, they tirelessly hosted endless fundraiser rummage sales and fish frys.

They even pushed a piano down the street once, just to make a sale!

Artwork by Julia Allen

In 1972, their dream became a reality when they had raised enough money to purchase an old drug store on West Morris Street and convert it into a small, but much needed health center. Several served on the health center’s Board of Directors. Over the years, they have continued their fight to keep health services in their neighborhood. Today Southwest Health & Dental Center remains HealthNet’s busiest health center.

In fact, when the center reached capacity about five years ago, the Southwest Health Center Board made the final pledge to complete the fundraising campaign for an expansion. In 2010, the health center reopened in its new home, a 103-year-old Masonic Lodge beautifully renovated by Halstead Architects and Wurster Construction.


The greatness of the neighborhood group’s dream resided not as much in its originality—other health centers had begun popping up around the country a few years before—as in the ownership these folks took in it.  In doing so, they opened doors for their community – doors to health, hope and a better future for their families.

This community spirit has been the genesis for all of HealthNet’s health centers, and has  remained at the heart of our work ever since. And it is the most salient explanation of how and why HealthNet has become what it is today—the largest Federally Qualified Health Center in Indiana, with more than 584 staff members, serving more than 51,500 patients and clients through many sites across Marion County and beyond.

This year, Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) is honoring neighborhood visionaries and important projects in our city as part of their Vision 20/20 anniversary celebration. Guess who was among the first to be highlighted? The Southwest side residents who started Southwest Health & Dental Center some 44 years ago. Check out this video!

As we wrap up a month-long focus on giving a care about hopes and dreams, we salute our founders who had the vision and fortitude to make their dreams a reality for their neighborhoods! And, we thank LISC for being a great community partner in our communities.


What’s next for Indy neighborhoods? What will it take to make them great? Good question. If you have hopes and dreams for YOUR neighborhood, be a part of the discussion. Check out the public conversation series LISC is hosting this fall.

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