Section Highlights

Community Building Program - Residents in Action

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Here are samples of what our community building members do in their local communities:

Midvale Avenue in Philadelphia Still Has Mr. Bowman

Charles BowmanCharles Bowman has lived a full life. Originally from Brooklyn, he moved to Philadelphia in 1963 into the same house on Midvale Avenue he lives in today. He started out teaching elementary school during the civil rights movement, but soon found a higher paying job at the city’s Welfare Department. He had worked as a case supervisor for 29 years when his failing health finally forced him into retirement. It was around that same time that his mortgage payments started to catch up with him.

“I was in and out of the hospital at that point,” he explains. “Kidney disease, a stroke. It was hard to pay the bills.” His sister helped as much as she could while he was in a nursing facility, but when Mr. Bowman returned home he found a stack of late notices waiting for him in the mail. And a foreclosure notice.

“I called New Kensington Community Development Corporation to get help with the bills,” says Charles. “When I brought up the foreclosure they said they could help with that too.” By contacting his lender and negotiating the terms of the mortgage, NKCDC was able to bring down Mr. Bowman’s monthly mortgage payments from $900 to $689. “That’s a big difference,” Charles remarks.

With his soft and weathered voice, Charles’ eyes light up as he very matter-of-factly describes his experience at NKCDC. “I am very pleased with what they did for me,” he says. “Every time I went there they didn’t take long to welcome me into the office, make me feel comfortable, and answer all my questions.”

Thanks to NKCDC, Charles remains in the house he’s made his home for the past forty years. The faded pictures of friends and family still hang on the walls. Saturday bus rides to the barber still take less than 5 minutes. And Midvale Avenue still has Mr. Bowman.

Written by Kevin Musselman, Community Relations Specialist, New Kensington Development Corporation.

Building a Playground with Community Volunteers

Building a playgorund with community volunteers

Cabrillo Economic Development Corporation (CEDC) is located in Ventura County, California. It started as a small initiative by 80 farm worker families to support their housing needs in 1975; in 1981 it expanded to a countywide community development corporation. In addition to their housing programs and services CEDC has a vibrant community building program. Last summer they participated in a collaborative effort to bring a state of the art play ground into one of the communities they serve.

CEDC, in a cooperative effort with the County of Ventura, the Piru Neighborhood Council, corporate sponsor Amgen Foundation, and a Washington-based nonprofit playground builder, KaBOOM, built its first KaBOOM playground in the small town of Piru last summer. Typically a yearlong planning process through the Kaboom model, this playground was completed in a matter of 18 weeks. Residents were involved in all aspects of the process: serving on the 18 planning committees, fundraising, volunteer recruitment, and finally in designing and building the playground. The 3 day playground prep and build was held in August, culminating in a community event where 161 volunteers put up the playground. 27 CEDC staff volunteered for the event with construction division providing the skilled labor for use of power tools. Through this effort CEDC was able to establish:

  • Relationships with 16 local and 17 regional businesses
  • Fundraise $ 4,032 of in-kind donations for the community playground
  • Identify 10 community leaders
  • Recruited 86 community volunteers

What a great way to spend a couple of days in the summer! For more information on CEDC please visit their website.

Building Capacity at the Community Level

Othello Park (Seattle, WA) Festival Summer 2010

Othello Park Festival Summer 2010

HomeSight, a nonprofit located in Seattle, Washington, is celebrating its 20th anniversary of building strong vibrant communities through home ownership, economic development, and neighborhood revitalization. Community building is a key component of HomeSight┬┤s mission. With this program they aim to ensure that existing residents and local business owners in Southeast Seattle benefit financially from investment, grow their equity interest, and grow their political voice in the community.

Here are some accomplishments at the community level for the past five years mentioned in their recently published online report:

  • Supported the development of 10 community organizations
  • Facilitated 4 beautification & infrastructure improvement projects
  • Managed the development of 3 cultural centers
  • Supported 6 local business associations
  • Built capacity for neighborhood organizations to implement more than 50 community-building activities, including neighborhood clean-ups and concerts in the parks.

In addition, HomeSight, with financial and technical support from NeighborWorks America, sponsored more than 50 new and emerging leaders to participate in four leadership trainings over the past three years.

Participants of the Vietnamese Community Leadership Institute

Participants of the Vietnamese Community Leadership Institute

Participants in these Community Leadership Institutes (CLIs) have been so inspired that they have committed to broadly sharing the knowledge and skills gained from these trainings by organizing Seattle-area CLIs, including a culturally focused CLI for the Vietnamese-American community.

This work in building capacity for grassroots events has been honored with community-police partnership awards and recognized by community, police, government, and private organizations.

For more information about the community building work done at HomeSight, visit their website, sign up to receive their e-newsletter and check out this great online report highlighting their past five years.

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