Tracing its roots to Thanksgiving Day 1835, Families First Indiana is the oldest human services organization in the state. Its services and methods have grown and evolved over the ensuing years, but its core mission remains the same: working toward a healthier community by strengthening individuals and families.
“Originally, some prominent 19th century people in the area were concerned about the state of some of the families who came to live here,” says David Siler, the organization’s president and CEO. “Many came to find work when the railroad was first built, but there was a great deal of poverty. So some of the influential people of the area began going door-to-door on Thanksgiving Day in 1835, making sure everyone had enough food and coal.”
The organization has gone through several name changes over the years, starting as the Indianapolis Benevolent Society, and with the name changes have come new services to meet the ever-changing needs of the community.
Like many cities, Indianapolis and the surrounding region have struggled with substance use disorders, sexual violence, and inadequate access to mental health services for large numbers of people. Families First is on the front lines of those battles. “In particular, the opioid addiction crisis has impacted our business a lot,” Siler says. “It’s something that has profoundly impacted both individuals and families.”
In addition to substance use services, the opioid crisis has increased the need for mental health, child advocacy, and suicide prevention services. They’re all services Families First either offers or coordinates, and it operates the Central Indiana Crisis and Suicide Intervention Hotline, answering about 500 calls a week.
To meet demand, Families First relies on a mix of professionals and volunteers; it employs about 100 people, and generally has about 120 volunteers within its footprint of Marion County and surrounding counties.
Through it all, Huntington has supported the organization via advocacy and volunteer work.
“Huntington takes community service very seriously, and having their reputation alongside us, it lifts us up and gives us recognition and added credibility in the community,” Siler says. “We’re looking forward to expanding our relationship with them.”
About the organization
Name: Families First Indiana Inc.
Phone: (317) 634-6341
Mission: To create healthier communities by strengthening families and individuals through life challenges and changes
How you can help
Visit the website and click on the "volunteer" tab at the top of the screen for volunteer opportunities. A "give" tab is also available for donations.