Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The power of community

Our Rochester Park "community" is growing!!

I had just gotten home from work and my phone rang telling me I had a text message:

8:19 I HAVE A WITNESS THAT THEY ARE BACK SELLING SINGLE CIGARETTES

After having a meeting with the store owners and explaining legal and appropriate practices of stores, they had stopped selling single cigarettes. Evidently, the store owners think we're no longer watching!

Despite Evette going back to work and being unable to be at some of our community meetings, she's making sure the community is staying on track!

After exchanging a few texts, Evette said she could be at the next community meeting to prepare us for the Town Hall meeting. PLUS, she said, she's bringing a friend!!

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This afternoon the kids were at the After-School Academy having a "tye-dye party" as a part of their Spring Break activities. Mayrea walked in and hung out, helping out where needed.

Mayrea came to our last Town Hall meeting. After we had left the meeting, she and I talked for a little bit. She was excited about how the meeting had turned out and said she wanted to make sure and come to the next one.

She and her 13-year old son have been volunteering at the After-School Academy ever since. Seeing her excitement, I also talked to her about brainstorming our Community Clean-up project idea for this summer. She immediately agreed to help out.

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Ms. Lori came to prepare lunch for the kids today. Lori has become an amazing force in the community.

Lori's neighbor, Rochelle, had come to check on her two boys in the After-School Academy. When she walked in, Sylvia and Lori immediately started asking her about attending the next community meeting.

As Rochelle hesitated and tried to come up with excuses, Lori explained to her that she just needs to take the first step and it would be easier after that. Lori went on explaining that her own reason for getting involved was because she "didn't have anything better to do" and "might as well." (and we are so glad that has been the case!)

Lori finally told Rochelle she may have to just go grab her and drag her out to the next meeting. That seemed an acceptable solution to Rochelle.

You know, sometimes we need a friend/a neighbor to stand alongside us for support...sometimes we need them to "drag" us. That's what COMMUNITY is all about. Community is about support. Community is about holding each other accountable. Community is sometimes pushing people into things they don't think they want to be involved in because they can't yet see the benefit.

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After I went back to the office, I heard a loud knock at the door. Mr. Rhodes was just passing by on his way to pick up his wife.

When I answered the door, he simply said, "I can't stay, but I wanted to give you this."

He handed me a complete CD recording of our last Town Hall meeting! "Listen to it. I think you'll find some interesting things to take notes on."

Mr. Rhodes is an asset. He's lived in the community for 60+ years and is often so frustrated with the lack of progress over the years that he has a hard time wanting to get involved again. But he has a desire and a passion to document what happens in South Dallas.

Because of him, we just may have a way to document the little and big successes of the residents of Rochester Park!

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Just the other day Sylvia excitedly told me how Ms. Haynes began helping Mr. Williams learn how to use the computer.

That doesn't sound like much until you realize that less than a year ago Ms. Haynes had no idea what "Google" was. As a result of coming to the Educational Outreach Center every day it's open, she has learned how to "surf the 'net" and many other things on the computer. Now she is beginning to teach others.

Ms. Haynes has also come to some of our community meetings. Both she and Mr. Williams have been a part of our Town Hall meetings and utilize the Educational Outreach Center's computer lab now on a regular basis.

People are coming together! People are beginning to see the value in each other! People are beginning to see how they can effect change in the community.

THAT is EXCITING!
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