Community Connections: Johnnie Nichols

Johnnie Nichols is a strong advocate and resource for youth in Indianapolis.

Johnnie Nichols is a strong advocate and resource for youth in Indianapolis. He has a youth organization, Broken Wings Youth Coalition, and is involved with multiple organizations to protect not only youth, but all individuals in our community. His work and dedication are driven by a passion to show those growing up in Indianapolis that their past is not their destiny.

Nichols also has a degree in cybersecurity and helps with IT at Mary Rigg. Nichols explained that when he first moved back to Indianapolis, he was searching for an opportunity to get his foot in the door to build his program. That is when his partnership with Mary Rigg began,

“Mary Rigg actually was the first organization that gave us an opportunity when we launched.” Nichols said.

Originally from the South, Nichols didn’t have many connections when he moved to Indianapolis. He was also struggling financially. Nichols recalls what it was like for him going through those struggles,

“You don’t know how to feed your kids.” Nichols said, “You have a disconnect notice for IPL and it’s hot as heck outside and IPL gets cut off, so does air conditioning, you have no food in the refrigerator. So, you’re going around scrambling for food so they can eat, or you’re not eating, you know, threats of your car being repossessed, you know?”

During this time, Nichols’ really relied on his faith. He was working hard to provide for himself and his children, and he was praying. While faith may look different to different people, it was his passion and devotion to it that led him to Indianapolis and to supporting the youth here.

Unfortunately, his struggles weren’t limited to financial hardships. Nichols also faced racism in his efforts to create a better life for himself, his family, and for the community. He developed a curriculum for the program he wanted to create and build, but he faced rejection due to the color of his skin.

“Several people looked over the curriculum, everyone loved it, then they saw me.” Nichols said, “When they saw me, it was different.”

What got Nichols through these challenges and adversities is his faith.

“A lot of prayer, a lot of trusting God and walking by faith… When I say walk by faith, this does not mean this is easy to do. When you walk by faith, you don’t know what the next step is going to bring. You could fall into a pit of glass, and that doesn’t mean you stop walking. The reason you walk by faith, knowing we can fall to the glass, is because it causes us to trust Him more. The more we trust Him, the more we develop, the more purpose comes into fruition.”

Nichols walked by his faith, worked tirelessly, and he now has the opportunities and resources to provide a better life for his family and our community. He now works with several different organizations in Indianapolis, partnering to create programs and build support systems for those who face hardships, not unlike his past.

One of the many organizations Nichols works with is the Department of Child Services (DCS). His life experiences, as well as his own children, have inspired him to work with this crucial department. In turn, his work with DCS has continued to inspire his work for the youth.

“Working with DCS, you see things that seem like “Why did this happen to you?”, and you realize those broken kids grew up to be broken adults and that cycle continues, it doesn’t stop.” Nichols said, “There are so many children that go through some type of abuse, whether it’s physical, spiritual, emotional, whatever, who don’t get help and end up being the parent and doing it to another.”

He wants to break this cycle of abuse. With the implementation of his programs, the support of local organizations, and his own passion, Nichols works tirelessly to better the lives of those around us. He believes in creating a better life for these kids.

However, perfection is not the goal, desire, nor the measurement of success. Nichols understands that these children are human, and humans make mistakes.

“That doesn’t mean they won’t make mistakes, but their mistakes won’t define them.” Nichols said.

Nichols believes that youth should have a chance to become whoever they want to be, despite the conditions they may have been born into. He continues to work every day to provide for the children within his family and his community.