Twin Cities Community Development Corporation in Fitchburg, MA wrote a fantastic example of how community building and organizing activities help an organization’s bottom line, and how leadership development improves a neighborhood. These are my favorite types of stories. What do you think about them? Read the examples below and leave a comment.
Examples of leadership development improving a neighborhood are reflected in these two stories:
Three residents involved with Twin Cities CDC, who live in a neighborhood where this organization provides services, spoke on behalf of the Elm Street Area Neighborhood Association in front of the City Council Public Works Committee. They were advocating for sidewalk and road improvements in their neighborhood. LeNeia Thomas, Paysha Rhone, and James Kayaba who hadn't previously been known to speak publicly in the face of power, framed their sidewalk issue around improving the safety of children and elders in the area. Prior to this action, all the three resident leaders attended either or both the Twin Cities CDC sponsored three day, Community Action Training or the NeighborWorks Community Leadership Institute. Thanks to their willingness to speak in front of the committee, the process for having these particular streets paved has begun.
A second story relates to a resident-led open house and barbeque. As Twin Cities CDC finished building new homes in the Elm Street Area the organization was very nervous about being able to sell the homes. The first home had been on the market for two years. Additional homes were being built and the anxiety of how soon they would sell was high, because of the debt incurred to build them and the pressure to sell them under the HOME rules.
Residents decided to hold a block party to help sell the homes. They got out the grill, organized the music and the first home was sold to an employee of Fitchburg State University on that day! Two of the three homes for sale were sold shortly after this event, greatly relieving financial stress on the organization and proving what the residents of the neighborhood already knew: that people wanted to live in the neighborhood.
Residents were also excited about a new daycare that bought a foreclosed home and opened up in the neighborhood. They welcomed the daycare with a press conference and yet another opportunity to sell a new homes. At the time Twin Cities submitted their quarterly report to NeighborWorks America, the last of the new homes had been put under agreement and another home they rehabilitated is also under agreement.
Community building activities and resident leadership development are not often looked as money makers for an organization; this is a great story to demonstrate that they certainly can help an organization’s bottom line! Three cheers to Twin Cities CDC for sharing this story!
Do you have stories of resident leadership development, community building activities and/or resident lead initiatives? Share them here or contact me to write a guest blog.