It has been a while since I wrote something about the goings on in the wonderful town of Kendallville and the wonderful county of Noble County that I have lived in for over a decade. When the recession hit, our county unemployment rose to nearly 20% at one point which, for a time, was the second highest in the state of Indiana behind Elkhart County that borders Noble County on its western side.
But the recession brought our county together in some wonderful, inspirational, and important ways. I was part of several meetings that led to the creation of the Community Table that fed people twice a week without questions and without charge in Kendallville and also in Ligonier on the western side of the county and since has moved to other locations throughout the county. A community garden was also developed with volunteer labor and donations to provide fresh and locally grown produce to those who needed it.
But there is an organization, whose 20th anniversary was celebrated today, that has contributed to increasing the workforce skills and education of employees not just here in Noble County but in the Northeast Indiana area as a whole that continues to be a key part of economic and workforce development vital to a diverse and healthy economy.
Appropriately named Freedom Academy, http://www.freedomacademy.net/ , this organization was begun in 1991 by the late Chet Dekko, a local businessman who believed that education was a vital part of personal and economic development that gave people greater freedom to live a better life.
Today I was reminded in a fun filled setting featuring the theme of ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’ from the Academy Award winning film of the same name, (hence the picture of the table at the beginning of this post) of the lift that education and training gives to people and their lives. I was moved with the story of one young man in his twenties who quit high school but then, through the Freedom Academy, got his GED and is now employed in the health care field and is looking to further his education and become a nurse!
I was glad I went today because it reminds me that I am a part of a wonderful community that values education and training as the means to a better life and I celebrate with the students, staff, and board of Freedom Academy on their successful 20 years of important work! Congrats Melissa and company!