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Strength in Diversity in East Central Indiana

Local organizations support inclusiveness.

By Kim Madlom on May 15, 2023

Muncie-Delaware County Black Chamber of Commerce
Muncie-Delaware County Black Chamber of Commerce

A desire for a sense of belonging inspires residents to participate in community organizations, institutions and economic development. East Central Indiana’s communities help foster a sense of belonging through their commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion.

Organizations, including the Muncie-Delaware County Black Chamber of Commerce, Rainbow Richmond, Miracle League of New Castle and the Grant County Young Professionals Network, support groups of various backgrounds as they create business, social and recreational programs that make the region stronger and more connected.

A Network for Minority-Owned Businesses

Founded in February 2020, the Muncie-Delaware County Black Chamber of Commerce (MDCBCC) members work to improve the African American community’s economic, cultural and civic well-being. The MDCBCC’s goals include enhancing the economic status of the minority community and creating a positive community climate of intellectual exchange of goods and services with all businesses.

Today’s MDCBCC has 100 members, including small businesses, not-for-profit organizations and associate members. In 2022, the chamber began having in-person meetings and hosted a successful mixer at Tonne Winery in Muncie.

“We had a great turnout,” says George Foley Jr., who handles public relations for the chamber. “Business owners had the opportunity to meet and network with one another and talk about the services they provide. Our members are asking for more of these types of events.”

Other meetings include educational presentations by professionals from legal, financial and other fields. The chamber has also held a luncheon to honor minority-owned businesses with a decade or more of service, including some that had been in business from 50 to 70 years.

“We wanted to let them know we respect and appreciate their accomplishments and success,” Foley says. “We also wanted to show our community that businesses can have longevity regardless of race or gender.”

In November 2022, the chamber hosted an awards banquet at the Ball State University Alumni Center, honoring 10 small businesses and two not-for-profits

Foley says the MDCBCC is welcomed and supported by the leadership and organizations in the region, including the mayor and deputy mayor of Muncie, Ball State and Ivy Tech Community College. In addition, the organization enjoys a good relationship with the Muncie-Delaware County Chamber of Commerce. The two groups plan to partner on projects in the future.

Miracle League of New Castle
Miracle League of New Castle

Everyone Is Part of a Team

“If you want to see some of the greatest baseball ever played, come to a Miracle League game,” says Cindy Brooks, the league director. “The passion our players have for baseball is immeasurable, and the joy they get from playing is inspiring.”

For 15 years, Miracle League has provided an opportunity for physically and cognitively challenged children and adults to experience America’s favorite pastime. Players on the 12 teams range in age from 3 to 76. More than 100 volunteers work with the league, and business sponsors help pay for uniforms, equipment and trophies. The league plays on fields owned and maintained by the city.

“Every season, I think I can’t see anything as touching as what I’ve seen in the past,” says Brooks, the mother of a child with special needs. “But every year, there is something new. Last year, a young boy with cerebral palsy worked to be able to run the bases without a wheelchair or walker. He was able to do that in the first game this past season. That’s what we’re about.”

Brooks says the goal is building a “field of dreams” for the league.

“We want a field where every aspect is handicap accessible – restrooms, concession stands, dugouts, everything. We hope to raise the funding for that to make this experience even better for our players and their families.”

Cindy Brooks, Miracle League director

Other Ways to Connect

Also working in the region to promote diversity, equity and inclusion are Rainbow Richmond, an organization supporting the LGBTQ population, and the Grant County Young Professionals Network, which connects young professionals to social, civic and economic opportunities.

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