This is an unprecedented and crucial time in our state, country and across the world. In the middle of what may seem like such division, there is opportunity; there is change happening; and there is space for collaboration and the amplification of voices and communities to be heard. In short, there is hope.
We see it every day in our work.
We see the heart, the compassion, and commitment of the people and partners we collaborate with in communities across the state and beyond.
Our belief that drives our work is that ultimately what communities, service providers, residents, and law enforcement want is more the same than different. We all seek to thrive; be safe where we live; and celebrate good health and a secure quality of life.
In the 18 months I have served as the Lead Community Organizer, I have learned more about neighborhood transformation than during any other time in my 20 years spent organizing on spot projects, initiatives and communities. However, the essentials are always the same: deep listening, power mapping, and sincere relationship building. The organizer and educator in me has learned to see the communities through the lens of the gifts, talents, and shared wisdom.
Although Serve & Connect works in communities using certain proven fundamental ways to move and mobilize, a key aspect of our role is to facilitate and hold a safe space that encourages and provides a structure to allow organic open dialogue among community members and leaders. From this space, we begin the proactive process of assisting communities. We collaborate with the natural community leaders to chisel out action and goal-based plans that identify a vision for the community and address challenges from lived experience and intimate knowledge of their neighborhoods. Our comprehensive work facilitates positive, measurable change through listening, planning, and action.
While many community challenges are urgent and require rapid response and mobilization, complex issues going back decades may exist. However, through deep listening, making authentic connections and relationships, we offer a space to assist and provide assistance and solutions from a different perspective.
In my work with Serve & Connect, I have found that people are generally living their lives in a very specific location and don’t often have a chance to break bread with neighbors in a meaningful way. It’s important for me and others to recognize the perspective that not everyone has the time or luxury to join or lead a collective effort.
When we work in specific communities and form leadership teams with residents and leaders from those communities, we make sure that we are always thinking about flexible ways to reach out to community members. It may be a quick chat to show compassion and deep listening, or a pop up walk through in neighborhoods for conversations to meet new people and make friends.
A prominent challenge in this work can be amplifying the awareness and accessibility of the existing resources. It’s not just a matter of mapping the power in areas and identifying the assets. There’s a relational element to walking with the community through the process and connecting people at every level we can — to show people that we are here, that there are helpers, that there are resources, and we will share them.
This is work of the heart, the soul. This is the work of Serve & Connect. We’re here for the opportunities and the challenges. We are here to stay, to collaborate, to find solutions, and continue to work to show that we are all more alike than different.
Together, we are better. Together, hope remains.