Meet April’s community hero of the month: Tom Lange

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (April 22, 2015) -- Tom Lange is the April Community Hero of the month. Tom fell in love with tutoring young people while working as a project manager at Eli Lilly. He had no idea it was the beginning of a journey to inspire young people helping them become leaders in their community.

Tom and his wife became keenly aware of the obstacle struggling families face in helping their children reach their fullest potential. When he retired from Eli Lilly two years ago, he decided to do something about it. He wanted to make sure students who benefit from extra help and encouragement have access to academic support and extracurricular activities outside the classroom. Tom created the Lion Catcher program, based on an Ethiopian proverb: "If spiders unite they can spin enough webs to catch a lion."

Tom teamed up with Washington Township Schools, Fox Hill Elementary, North Central High School, Brebuf High School and his church St. Luke’s. Tom says, “We’re trying to integrate a lot of great programs and solve a big problem for the community.” Tom coordinates volunteers to work in the classroom alongside teachers and tutor students with homework and activities after school. Tom is always right there building relationships with the young people and showing them that people care about their success.

He’s also taking basketball, soccer and recreational activities into the neighborhoods and apartment communities where some of the students live. They’re learning valuable lessons about hard work, success and perseverance they may have otherwise missed. Principal Sean Taylor says not only are the students involved showing improved performance in character and their school work. He says, “They feel like there are people in their community who value them and love them and want to see them do well.”  The parents are also becoming more involved in their children’s activities and school work.

FOX59 and Community Health are proud to present Tom with this month’s Community Hero award.  Watch the video above to see the Lion Catcher program at work!

You can nominate a community hero here.