De Lena P. Scales
“Resilience is the right word for Linden and the North Side.
Change, even when it is good, comes with some sort of grief... whether it is disinvestment, historic homicide rates, infant mortality, being a food desert; all these things that could destroy a community, and it didn't destroy many. It still stands strong.”
“I'm a professional connector. That's what I do.”
De Lena P. Scales was born in Fort Knox, Kentucky on an army base but calls Columbus her home. Growing up, De Lena "had a relative on each corner" of the Northside. She grew up mostly in the Linden area and graduated from Mifflin High School.
De Lena says, "all my 'firsts' take place [in Linden]— my very first job was at the McDonald's on Cleveland Avenue, which is now tore (sic) down. Every summer I worked at Ohio State Fairgrounds... So I just have great memories in that space... I didn't have to leave Cleveland Avenue do any of the things that I want to do wanted to do or needed to do. Now I've been in this space where I get to create that same limit all over again”.
After seeing and being a part of the revival of Liden, De Lena describes her neighborhood as "resilient". She says, "Resilience is the right word for Linden, and the north side. Change, even when it is good, comes with some sort of grief, and they have constantly overcome everything that's come at them. Whether it is disinvestment... historic homicide rates... infant mortality... a food desert— all these things that could destroy a community— and it didn't destroy many. It still stands strong".
In the past, De Lena served as the chair of the Southwest Area Commission and was heavily involved in “CelebrateOne”, an initiative to reduce the high rates of infant mortality in Columbus. Beginning her work in the neighborhood as a community health worker, De Lena helped expecting and new parents/families to make sure their babies live to celebrate their first birthday. De Lena voiced her passion for this initiative, “In the African American community our babies are two and a half times likely to die before their first birthday, and I was one of those individuals who lost a child. So again, just turning those pains into passion”.
De Lena now serves as the Neighborhood Liaison for the Department of Neighborhoods to Columbus. She serves three neighborhoods— Northland, South Linden, and Northeast area— by connecting the Area Commissions, civic groups, neighborhood groups, faith leaders, and community based organizations. De Lena especially loves working in these areas because she gets to serve where she lives and worships, and where she got to play and learn as a child.
Recognizing the resilience of the Linden community, De Lena has also had a hand in the creation of the “Celebrate Liden” app. In collaboration with Neighborhood Design Center and Warren Warhol on Wall Street, the “Celebrate Linden” app is a community mobile app that connects residents to resources and rewards them for participating in the community.
Additionally she works as the African American family navigator for DSACO (Down Syndrome Association of Central Ohio). De Lena's involvement with DSACO holds a deep importance to her and her family; “I have a six year old daughter with down syndrome, and I was finding it really hard to connect with black families in this space of representation, especially since it means so much in this world. I want my daughter to have that [representation], so when the opportunity came, I stepped up to the plate”.
We admire De Lena's incredible ability to use her own personal experiences to identify needs and help elevate and support the people around her.