When you look in Ms. Adkins’ eyes, its easy to see why some of the most influential people in the city respond deferentially to “the mayor of Evanston.”
Ms. Adkins grew up in Bessemer City, Alabama before moving to Cincinnati. She has lived in Evanston for 54 years and seen quite a bit. When you talk with her, you will certainly hear stories. But they are never stories about herself: they are always stories about the beautiful neighborhood she is a part of, and her efforts to tirelessly serve Evanston residents and see a community continuously re-imagined for the better.
You’ll hear about the transformation of the St. Leger apartments, and how the tragic accident of a young boy falling and severely injuring his neck, galvanized Ms. Adkins into action. Through her efforts and in partnership with the city, a 100+ unit, crime-ridden slum was torn down and replaced with a brand new 26 unit affordable housing community that has played a key role in the recovery of Evanston as a walkable, vibrant urban neighborhood. You’ll hear about the transformation of the Evanston Recreation Center, the addition a new façade and the creation of a beautiful waterpark facility that on hot summer days is now filled with children’s smiles and parents’ laughs. You’ll hear about how Evanston is the educating community: home to amazing schools from the 5-star Horizons’ Day care on Woodburn to Evanston Academy, Academy of World Languages, and Alliance Academy at the elementary level, to the top-ranked Walnut Hills High School, to Xavier University. You’ll also no doubt get invited to the Evanston Area Council of which Ms. Adkins is the president. Why will you be invited? Because Ms. Adkins wants everyone involved! “There’s no big I’s and little you’s in God’s eyes,” she often says, “We must accentuate the positives and downplay the negatives. Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.”
Ms. Adkins embodies this unrelenting trust in the Lord. Faith in Christ has become central to the heartbeat of the Evanston neighborhood. Ms. Adkins has been a constant supporter of our work at The Mission Cincinnati because she sees us as a church whose ministry goes “beyond the four walls and into the community.” She also sees that we have many young people in our church, and as such believes we are perfectly positioned to reach the youth of the neighborhood for whom her heart truly breaks. Alongside Ms. Adkins and the Evanston Area Council, we have had the privilege of connecting at the grassroots level with groups in our community that are trying to do good work. Our people have tutored preschoolers at Evanston Academy, we’ve helped put on 2 annual Halloween Trunk or Treats for the neighborhood, and in April we threw our own Evanston Easter Egg hunt that was attended by over 250 people from our community. When Ms. Adkins saw the event she said, “We should have invited the news out today! People only hear the bad stories coming out of Evanston. They need to know that good things are happening here too!”
We are honored to be part of the Good Stories God is writing through our neighborhood and torch-bearers like Ms. Adkins. Evanston is certainly still a neighborhood of need. We have high child poverty statistics, drug trafficking is a continuous problem, and crime stats—though decreasing—are not negligible. We are also a community that is wrestling with issues of housing justice and gentrification. But this neighborhood is also full of beauty, full of life, and full of passionate residents eager to make a positive difference. As a church that loves our neighborhood and seeks to pray for and work toward its welfare, we continually seek to be a faithful presence in our place that reveals God’s Kingdom more and more on our streets and works to promote equity and justice in the redevelopment of our community alongside all the folks here who have already been engaged in this work long before we arrived. This is difficult work, but it is joyful and we are so excited about how God continues to root us more and more in this beautiful neighborhood and increase our favor with and opportunities to serve and be served by our neighbors! We dream about a future when our church can renovate a permanent space in the community and open the doors to a “front porch for Evanston” where people from every pocket of the community can come together to enjoy food, conversation, and great public events.
Our work to reach out to and serve the neighborhood of Evanston is one of the many ministries you will be supporting by giving to The Mission Cincinnati on #givingTuesday! Also if you live in Cincinnati and desire to be a part of a Christian faith community that takes its place seriously and genuinely seeks to serve its neighborhood, we’d love for you to connect with you! We meet for worship every Sunday at 10 AM at the Evanston Recreation Center (3204 Woodburn Ave. Cincinnati OH 45207). We’d love to meet you, hear your story, and share ours!