Get Connected: Lion Catcher

A program aimed to build partnerships started as a proverb.
“When spiderwebs unite, they can tie up a lion.” This Ethiopian proverb, shared at a neighborhood meeting Tom Lange attended in 2014, struck a nerve. At the time, Lange was contemplating leaving a 34-year career at Eli Lilly & Co. to tackle the poverty and unemployment plaguing his northwestside community. The proverb brought something into focus: To succeed, everything would come down to partnerships. The program that Lange subsequently got off the ground, Lion Catcher, works to bring services into the neighborhood rather than making residents already strapped for time and money go to them. For example, it teamed with Dynamo FC to teach soccer and social skills, like forgiveness and respect, to local kids. Dynamo pros bring the equipment, run the action, and think through the conversation starters. All local volunteers have to do is show up. Now, Dynamo reaches 72 new participants each year.
Last year, Lion Catcher, now under the umbrella of the Crooked Creek Community Development Corporation run by Lange, expanded its web even further through the Faith & Action Project. Run by the Christian Theological Seminary, the initiative focuses on bringing groups together to make an even bigger impact on poverty. It awards three annual grants and serves as a resource hub at its website, “A lot of times, faith communities aren’t aware of the resources out there and where to send people who come to them,” says FAP director Lindsey Rabinowitch. “They can play a different role than a social agency can play. It’s about bringing it all together.”