Women’s History Month Spotlight on Paula McGee—for having our backs

| March 5, 2014
Jeanie Summerville

Jeanie Summerville

By Jeanie Summerville

Whatz up, babies?

It pleases me so, that this Month is Women’s History Month because some spectacular, wonderful and dynamic women are being spotlighted for you. These women have enhanced our lives, our children’s lives, our relatives and friends lives and so many others lives, in one form or another. You need to know about what they do, why they do it and how it all started so that you can feel the beauty within their hearts for all of us. To kick it all off, we salute Paula, a woman who has been willing and still is willing to help anyone, if she can. So at this particular time, as we travel on our journey of love to get to know one another better, all we want you to do is just sit back, relax and enjoy. Or, stand and jump and shout if you want to! You can do that because Frost Illustrated is gonna take you there and this is what she has to say:

Paula McGee is concerned about the mental health of the community.

Paula McGee is concerned about the mental health of the community.

“Hello, Frost Illustrated readers. My name is Paula McGee and I’m an attorney by trade but I’m not officially practicing. I’m the director of Economic Development and Housing here at the Fort Wayne Urban League and have been for the past almost five years. I feel very proud working here because it’s a great organization to be with and our doors are open to everybody. My main focus is on housing and we are a HUD Certified Housing Counseling Agency that assists people in foreclosure and we also offer pre-purchase workshops, counseling, homelessness prevention, as well as, many more services.

“In regard to the economic development parts of it, I work with our employment services because trying to keep persons in their homes requires them to have some income. We attempt to make sure that they’re getting all of the services that are necessary. Whether it’s finding employment or trying to find an increase in their skill level through our employment service. So that ultimately, when we save a home from foreclosure, we’ll be able to keep one in their homes. That’s a major impact for the community versus a home sitting empty and making the community basically go down hill by losing value in their property. I also attend all of the settlement conferences because, since Indiana is a judicial state, where one is served with their summons of foreclosure, they have the opportunity to sit down with a representative of the bank to let them know they want to stay in their home and that they’re being considered with the various programs that are out there.

“We also have youth services and that includes education, tutoring, after school programs, a college readiness program that’s called, Delta Gems and a lot of them participate in the STEM Program, that deals with sciences and math studies. Here at the Urban League, we try to get them prepared and encourage them to be ready for the years ahead so we can try to stop that cycle of poverty. And, we also make sure that people are aware of all of the services, not only here but in our community because we do make referrals to various other agencies since we can’t do it all. All of our classes are free but in the future that may have to change because there isn’t enough money coming through the doors. So, to help prevent that from happening, as part of our fundraiser, we’re raffling off a 2014 Malibu that has been donated from Summit City Chevrolet and was mentioned at our Gala Extravaganza last November.

“We started off with 400 tickets and there’re only $50 each and one can buy as many as you like. With that, our numbers are a whole lot better than the lottery and it’s a three year lease for the licensed and insured driver. If you’re name is pulled, you can actually go to the dealership, choose your color and pick up your car. But, the winner is required to pay the taxes, insurance and license. Some may say, that doesn’t look to good for the Urban League to be raffling off anything. But, the way we see it is, if someone who needs help wins this raffle, the winner will not have monthly payments for three years and that allows them to get ahead and seriously to be able to save some money so they can reach another goal.

“How this car raffle came to be is, the Urban League Gala Extravaganza, typically has something major each year because that’s our major fundraiser and we were trying to figure out what else we could do. So our last year President of the Guild Regina Frison and CEO Jonathan Ray, spoke with a Chevrolet dealer that’s on our board and he said he’s going to step up to the plate and make the donation of the car so we can raise funds. After that, we took care of our licensing that’s required to sell raffle tickets and the Guild started selling tickets. The drawing was originally set for February 2014 but it didn’t happen because we didn’t sell all 400 tickets. We now plan to draw March 19, 2014 if we have all of the tickets sold. If not, it will be pushed back again until all 400 tickets are sold. So to everybody that wants to buy a ticket or tickets, you can contact any of the Urban League Guild members, the Fort Wayne Urban League at (260) 745-3100 and direct your calls to Etse or myself because I’m the Guild’s liaison—or you can visit us at 2135 S. Hanna St., and good luck to everybody that participates.”

Isn’t this some great information, babies? Of course it is, so now you’re going to learn more about Paula and her life growing up, enjoy:

“I was born and raised here in Fort Wayne, Ind., and we lived on East Wayne Street. I’m number eight of nine children. I wanted to become an attorney due to the riots of the ’70s because one day, I was sitting on the roof of our house watching the excitement and one of our neighbors was pulled from his home and I felt the need to do something for our community so I said, I’m going to become an attorney. My older sister Delores told me, ‘Paula you can do that!’ But, I was young then and still trying to figure it out. Once I graduated high school, it was six years later that I went to college because I didn’t really like school that well. So I understand when kids say, ‘I don’t want to go right now’ because it’s never too late to learn. But, the one thing that really made me go to college was, I’ve never been without a job and the company that I was working for closed down and I went six months searching for a job. Then I thought, ‘Wow wait a minute, I guess it’s time to go back to school’ and I did.

“I started off at IPFW then went down to Ball State University, graduated and did my internship in the prosecutor’s office here in Fort Wayne but they didn’t have a position for me afterward. So when my sister Delores, who was a psychologist, was coming back to Fort Wayne, I decided to help her open her office. She became ill and yet she still kept encouraging me to stay in school because she loves it, she was always in school. She had gotten her doctorate degree not long before she wanted to come back home to help the community since we didn’t have any black psychologist. She always had health problems and we opened her business and she lasted maybe two years healthwise, then she was back down in the hospital again. Well, at this time, I was on my way to law school and my sister stayed sick so I came back and did another internship in the prosecutor’s office. I did appreciate their assistance but I decided I needed to be more independent because I really found myself as a social worker.

“I started off my private practice initially with Don James and Robert Love and when I initially met them, they gave me much encouragement and experience, I really appreciated that. I worked with domestic violence and assisted one’s that had been involved in domestic violence with divorces, separations and protective orders here in Allen County and outlying counties. I did a lot of guardian work through the Superior Court here as well, so I practiced a lot in family law while I was still handling divorces and things in that order. So with me, it’s always been about family and community and it just ended up being a perfect fit here at the Urban League because it continues to allow me to assist.

“And, I want everybody to know, knowledge is power! Here at the Urban League, we avail our services to you so if you need help, let us help you. We all make mistakes and a mistake isn’t really a mistake, it’s a lesson that you can learn from and we’re all in this together. I always think about my upbringing and how you should treat people the way you want to be treated and so, if I can help anybody I will. The Urban League tries to help everybody with all of our services throughout this building and through our collaborations with different resources. To me, it’s just remarkable that people don’t jump on this. They made it centrally located in the most improved area here in Fort Wayne and it’s not as busy as I would like it to be. It’s easy access and we have the library on one end and CANI on the other end that’s starting off with our babies because we have to start them early and family is right here at the Urban League and all of our services range from babies to adults. We just want people to keep coming to us because we want everybody to have an opportunity.”

Now in closing I say, fantastic job Paula! I’m so proud of you and your accomplishments, keep up the great work in the name of love. Now I say to the people, they are there for you. There are here for Us! So please, if you are in need of any of their services let them help you because I don’t want anyone to be homeless, if I can help it. Also, about that car raffle, get on board if you can because you’ll be helping the Urban League to raise funds so they can help more people for free and who knows, maybe it could be you looking great in the real fine car driving down the boulevard. So until next week, you’ve been up close with Jeanie. Bye, bye babies.

P.S. If you would like The Spotlight shined upon you or someone that you know, all in the name of love, just send me an e-mail to upclosewithjeanie@yahoo.com. I’d love to hear from ya.

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Category: Local, Opinion, Special Reports

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