“I think that it just speaks volumes that you have such a huge community hub that everyone can utilize and take advantage of and go to for help that’s also working in coordination with the school.” – Sydney Dressler
Sydney Dressler embodies one of the most crucial aspects of Mary Rigg Neighborhood Center’s mission, community support. As the school coordinator for IPS 46, Dressler works to both support and maintain community in the Westside community, many times with the help of local partnerships with organizations like Mary Rigg.
Sydney Dressler grew up in Greenwood, Indiana. His parents fostered a love and passion for serving others, placing emphasis on answering the question, “What can I do for my neighbors?”. Dressler knew he wanted to work with people, and after graduating from college he found himself working as a zip line instructor. Which was, as he described, “super random”.
“I was like, I don’t know what I want to do with my life, I’ll go work in the trees.” Dressler said, “And I randomly got connected to the Indiana School for the Blind and Visually Impaired, that was my first school job, and I was just a classroom assistant there. I had no intentions of ever working at a school… That was my first interaction in school-based work, and I loved it.”
Since his time as a zip line instructor, Dressler has channeled his parent’s passion and followed a new career path of serving his community. He began working with Adult and Child Health, helping with behavioral skills and mental health work. Through this work, he formed a relationship with a student that neither he — nor his wife — had anticipated.
“We started fostering within our first year of marriage.” Dressler said, “We were not anticipating to do it that quickly but there was a student that just needed a home. We had kind of watched him go from home to home, and not being settled for very long before having to be moved again and so we just kind of realized, like, I think this is what we need to do. I think this is what we’re kind of being called to do.”
Dressler and his wife had discussed fostering children before, they both knew they wanted to provide a home to those who need it. So, they opened their arms and home to a child who needed the safety, stability, and support that they offered. For them, the timing was a small factor in a large decision, and they knew they could offer a safe and caring home for someone who needed exactly that.
With taking on the role of a foster parent, Dressler had to part with Adult and Child Health. He was connected to Daniel Webster School 46 where he has been working, building relationships with parents and students, and serving the community for five years. It is easy to see the passion that drives Dressler to continue progressing in his role as school coordinator.
“Obviously I love the little kids and working in a school, but I think what really drew me into this job was, so much of it is serving back to the neighborhood and really connecting different people together and providing resources and kind of bridging that gap.” Dressler said, “And that’s really what I fell in love with.”
Part of Dressler’s job involves the food pantry that is offered by the Daniel Webster School. He has worked with Mary Rigg staff to improve the food pantry program and through other programs. Dressler expressed his gratitude for having an organization like Mary Rigg and for being a part of a community that works together.
“I think that it just speaks volumes that you have such a huge community hub that everyone can utilize and take advantage of and go to for help that’s also working in coordination with the school.” Dressler said, “I mean, I don’t feel like you find this in many places, where community partners are this tight knit together, and this aligned with the same vision”
The tight knit community Dressler refers to could not be accomplished without hardworking people such as himself. When discussing the work he does for the community, Dressler seems grateful to be able to help.
Since the Daniel Webster food pantry is also open to the community, not just students or families of the elementary school, Dressler expressed his happiness to be able to help more people within the community. He is particularly proud of being able to relieve major stressors, like food insecurity, in any way he can.
“We’re your neighbor, and we want you to think of us that way.” Dressler said, “Think of us as our doors are open to always help you with whatever you need.”