MLK Center celebrates decades of service, seeks donations for renovations

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH ) — WISH-TV is proud to partner with the MLK Center in Indianapolis as it prepares to celebrate 50 years in the community.

They are looking for help to fund more than $ 2 million in renovations to their building in Butler Tarkington, but leaders there say it’s the programs that happen inside the building that are the true heart of the MLK Center.

The MLK Center started in a barber shop back in 1973. Since then it’s location has changed, but the legacy never has and the leaders there hope it never will.

The decades of history is captured in photos, kept in a collection of albums inside the MLK Center at West 40th and North Illinois streets.

“I was born right around the corner on Berkley Road,” Devin Thomas said. “I can remember being a youth and coming to summer camp here.”

Devin Thomas’ face is one frozen in time in the pages of albums. He found himself while flipping through the pages.

“I knew that it was a place that I could come, hang out with my friends, went on field trips and learned a lot as a youth,” Thomas said.

Now he’s president of the board.

“The more that I’ve been involved, the more that I’ve seen the work that everyone here does, the more that I’ve been around the youth, the more I feel compelled to be around,” Thomas said.

It’s a full circle journey and one that’s inspiring Thomas and other leaders at the MLK Center to keep walking the path.

“Just to see where we’ve come from and to where we’re going, it’s exciting to think about the potential of where we could go,” Thomas said.

Charity Malone is a community builder at the MLK Center. During the spring and summer, she dedicates her time to the Tarkington Teen Work Crew, just one of the programs at the center.

“I love the kids,” Malone said. “I get to be myself and they accept me and I get to joke around with them, but at the same time if they are struggling with a decision or making a bad choice, I get to steer them back.”

It’s not just about putting kids teens to work each summer, but teaching them invaluable lessons and skills.

“To me, it’s like getting a head start. We’re giving you financial literacy, job readiness, you’re going to learn how to write a resume,” Malone said.

Thomas and Malone tell News 8 the building near West 40th and Meridian streets may be the tangible part of the equation, in need of repairs and renovations, but it’s what happens inside that is absolutely priceless.

“A lot of the effort in this place is unmatched so in order to reflect that effort, the programming, the wonderful people who work here every day, it only makes sense that the building take that next step as well,” Thomas said.

If the MLK Center can raise $1 million, the United Way will chip in another $1 million.

You can donate right now at You can also give by texting “MLKCENTER” to 44321.