August 3, 2011 Leave a comment
Jim Schepers – The Other Way Ministries
A young man needing to do some community service gets an experience beyond what he came for.
One of the main outcomes wanted when placing an Americorps community worker in a neighborhood to do asset based community development is the development of an increasing number of volunteers who care enough about the community to spend their time making it better for everyone. Of course, we are most interested in investing in local neighborhood residents, the assets of our neighborhood. However, sometimes, the assets we find don’t always fit our pre-determined model.
To identify and engage neighborhood ‘assets’, we train Americorps members to listen carefully for opportunity and to make connections, giving volunteers the chance to do some simple good works in the neighborhood. What we cannot teach is the thoughtful follow-up, invitation and encouragement it takes to help change a person from a disconnected resident to a volunteer engaged and invested in developing community. Karl, our Westown Americorps Member tells one story of how he makes that happen. His story is about Keith. Keith came to us simply to fill a school required community service project. He left having gotten much more than he needed.