Cindy Wadelton is at Coburn Place setting up an apartment so it’s move-in ready for a survivor mom and her baby. It’s something she’s done many times. She wields her clipboard like a middle-school basketball coach. The furniture is already placed, but the two-bedroom apartment needs everything else that will make it a home – dishes, silverware, cooking supplies, lamps, small appliances, bed linens, towels, shower curtain, toiletries, cleaning supplies, baby items, décor, some food to stock the cabinets. It’s a long list, and she and a partner work through it methodically with lots of trips to the building’s pantries and a rolling cart.
Cindy has been a fixture at Coburn Place for more than five years, so she knows the drill. (Hot tip: Run the dishes in the dishwasher first.) She started volunteering with her sister, managing all three of the Coburn pantries. “When I started watching my grandson full-time, I found it necessary to cut back my volunteer hours,” she says. Cindy kept the food pantry. Over the years, she’s also done some GED tutoring.
“It would be hard to overstate Cindy’s impact at Coburn Place,” says Julie Henson, donor relations officer. “She’s the real deal. She’s a marvel. It’s not just that she serves consistently in our pantries – it’s that she’s designed them, helped create a manual to train other volunteers, implemented systems to help us maximize impact for survivors. She is constantly purchasing urgent items we’re low on in real-time, bringing them with her when she comes to volunteer. She spends hours during the holidays sorting and taking inventory – sometimes she’s here almost full-time.”
“I love working here,” she says. “I love the staff and consider them friends. Coburn Place has such an important and necessary place in our community. The stories are mind-blowing. These families are strong and resilient beyond belief.”
Cindy grew up near Omaha, Nebraska. She has a bachelor’s degree in math and computer science from Loras College in Dubuque, Iowa, and a master’s degree in industrial engineering and management sciences from Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. After graduation, she moved to Indianapolis to work for Eli Lilly and Company. She was with Lilly for eight years, and she met her husband, Tom, on her first day there. They married in June 1988 and have three children. Cindy took a family leave of absence to raise her kids – Tara, an accountant; Christina, a registered dietitian; and Tommy, a data analyst. She watches her grandson during the day and is a private high school math tutor in the evening. She and her husband are members of St. Maria Goretti in Westfield.
Cindy reads constantly. She also loves cooking, baking, hosting dinner parties and doing puzzles. “I’m an avid walker, but very against running,” she says.
In addition to her work at Coburn Place, the Wadeltons are a host family for Safe Families for Children. Safe Families provides temporary housing for children with families in crisis. The program allows families time to get back on their feet and establish a stable home. Placements can be for a few days to a few months. During that time, the Safe Families team offers support in many ways, including connecting families with community resources.
This work is personal for her. “Growing up, my house was the one where the cops showed up to take my drunk stepfather away,” Cindy says. “I know how ashamed I felt knowing my friends and neighbors were watching. As an adult, I know my mom and siblings did nothing to deserve the treatment we received. I was not the one who should have felt the shame. I want these families to know they don’t have to bear the burden of shame any longer. It is not theirs to carry. Coburn provides the support that allows them to recover. This organization is a gift to many, and I am honored to play a small role in our service to the community.”
The honor is ours. “It’s been a privilege and a gift to experience Cindy’s spirit of service, optimism and authenticity,” says Julie. “Her friendship to Coburn Place has made a powerful difference in the lives of our survivors.”