Family Day in the Park Day 2011

Al Santino – Northeast Community Transformation

This is an older story from AmeriCorps Member, Pam Ramos, Ayuda Community Center. 

Today was another good day in Hunting Park, Philadelphia. On Saturday, July 16, 2011, Hunting Park United, an organized neighborhood civic-association group made up of community individuals and partnering organizations, launched their first annual Family Day in the Park 2011. It was organized by our very own AmeriCorps member Pam Ramos. She is in her 8th month of service and has had the privilege of working alongside great community leaders and invested organizations. In the process of organizing this huge event in the park, she has had community meetings and has gathered community leaders for the purpose of input to what it was the community wanted at this event. With much work and collaboration of all, there were 25 non-profit organizations represented and over 75 volunteers recruited and more importantly over 500 plus community people that participated.

With all the resource tables available for the adults, from health screens put on by Esperanza Health Center’s Summer Medical Institute which is a program that allows medical students from around the country the unique opportunity to serve in an urban setting, engaging neighbors and performing various health screenings. Esperanza Health Center’s own Community Health Promoters graduates were on hand to answer questions. This is a lay-health class offered to community people who wish to be educated on various health issues; given 50 hours of training are then certified to promote health topics in varies ways. There was donated food BBQ’d & served by Richard & Friends United in the Community and finally Zumba aerobics instruction given by our local friend Cindy Ortiz from the Philadelphia group.

There was also plenty for the kids to do like face painting provided by a local congregation (One Hope Community Church) to plenty of crafts and games put on by a brand new coalition established in Hunting Park by four existing organizations to create S.E.A.C. Its mission is to work with engaging families to prevent drug-usage & abuse.  It includes Spirit & Truth Fellowship, Esperanza Health Center, Ayuda Community Center, and Casa De Consejeria translates into “House of Counseling. As you can see that Hunting Park United understands the power of community development and organizing– partnering for the greater good of the community. I’d say this community event was a success people went away full of resources and food…another fine day in Hunting Park, where it takes community to build a community.

The Church of the City is Open to Learning About ABCD

Jim Moynihan – One Church

Pictured from left to right are Juan, from the City of Hamptonʼs Social Services

Department, Pastor Steve Edwards who started Street Church in the Harbor Square Apartments in downtown Hampton, Pastor Charles Cheek, Chairman of the Board of H.E.L.P., Hampton Roads Ecumenical Lodgings and Provisions – a ministry to the homeless, and Pastor Jim Moynihan, founder of One Church.

The Street Church outreach to the Harbor Square apartments has been well received by many of the churches in the downtown area. The pastors of these churches are meeting monthly for fellowship and to plan their collaborative ministry efforts. The ABCD model was shared with them over the summer and was well received.

The picture to the right shows two local ministries providing free haircuts and clothing during one of the Sunday evening Street Church services. We are getting to know one another as well as the residents of the apartment complex.

The four men above along with Pastor Larry Gibson from Hamptonʼs First Baptist Church conducted surveys in the apartment complex over a two-week period in late August following a Vacation Bible School provided by the ministers group in July. We are coordinating follow up convening meetings with the residents over the next few weeks.

Read more of this post

Rear View Mirror Check

Wendy McCaig – Embrace Richmond

True success comes when the community is the driving force behind change.

Several months ago Jay Van Groningen from Communities First Association taught a three day intensive workshop on Asset Based Community Development.  One question Jay asked us over and over again is “When you look in the rear view mirror, do you see a community transformation story?”

This week we wrapped up our 2010-11 AmeriCorps service year and I had a chance to look in the rear view mirror.  I wrote a post on the Embrace Richmond blog which chronologically highlighted the achievements of our team this past year.  I also included some outcomes numbers for the year in our newsletter.  Below is a summary

We provided positions for 31 AmeriCorps members, 14 of which were homeless or at-risk with barriers to employment.  75% of our members successfully completed their term of service and all the graduating members either enrolled for another term of service, entered college or moved into permanent employment.

Read more of this post

Mt Airy Community Church Launches Community Ministry

Al Santino – Northeast Community Transformation

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Northeast Community Transformation has recently developed a partnership with Mt Airy Community Church, a new church plant which is part of the Philadelphia Christian Reformed cluster of church plants affiliated with Spirit and Truth Fellowship.  Through the training, coaching and encouragement provided by NECT Mt Airy created the position of Community Advocate around one of its community gifted members, Cindy Lees.  Cindy tells the story of their recent progress.

In the beginning of April, Allen (our pastor) and I helped out at a local community cleanup that was sponsored by West Mount Airy Neighbors (WMAN).  That day I met the Chair of the Nominating Committee for WMAN, who asked me if I had any interest in becoming a board member.  As I thought and prayed about it, it seemed like a significant opportunity for me to become more relationally connected with some of the “gatekeepers” in this community (WMAN is a VERY active organization with a lot of influence in our neighborhood).  As of June 14th, I officially began a three-year term serving on the Board of WMAN (monthly Board meetings start in September).  Please pray for much wisdom for me!

Mt. Airy Day (which is sponsored by WMAN), was the large, annual community celebration that took place in the beginning of May.  This was another good opportunity for me to meet and work alongside folks from WMAN and begin building relationships with this group.  Several folks from our church helped “man” our table (at which we advertised community resources) and they began doing some community surveys as well.  I was encouraged as I reconnected with several folks from the community whom I knew from previous events; it was good to interact with them and let them know about our church and our desire to serve the community.

MACC is also coordinating with another local church, Mt. Airy Presbyterian Church, to run a Summer Kids Program (essentially a vacation Bible School) on Wednesday evenings in July and August.  These evenings will begin with a free “community dinner” for the kids and their parents and families.  This will be followed by teaching and activities for the kids, as well as worship time for teenagers and adults.  This is one of the ways we are seeking to reach out and serve our community.  We have posted flyers in the neighborhood, placed an ad in one of the local newspapers, and have also made some individual phone calls to “get the word out” about the program.  We also plan on handing out flyers door-to-door to folks who live very close to the church.

Changing the Pond

Wendy McCaig – Embrace Richmond

One of our partners, Wendy McCraig, has a great blog post on going beyond “teaching people how to fish” to “changing the conditions of the pond.” Not sure what that means? Check out her post:

Street Church is Building Relationships in Downtown Hampton, Virginia

Jim Moynihan – One Church – VA

In an effort to introduce ABCD principles and to conduct listening and convening events is downtown Hampton, Virginia we are conducting a weekly Street Church ministry on Sunday evenings. The residents and staff of this very needy community have received us well. We are building relationships of trust as we seek to transition this ministry to being a with effort.

Steve Edwards and I have continued to build relationships with several churches and ministries serving the Downtown community of Hampton, Virginia as well as with the residents of the Harbor Square apartments and their surrounding neighborhood.

The to/for ministry we have begun, in the hopes of introducing ABCD, is a Street Church ministry conducted on the property of the Harbor Square Apartment facility. This is a low income area that has many difficult issues they deal with continuously, including high crime and poverty.

The seven surrounding Christian churches, which are all within walking distance of the apartments, have been either unwilling or unable to build relationships with this community. Through the Street Church ministry two of these churches, along with several churches from outside of this community, have started to make connections with the management and the residents living there.

Steve and I are attending local ministerial gatherings to get acquainted with area ministers and to introduce the concept of ABCD. We are sharing the principles of ABCD in person, on a local radio program hosted by someone from the community, and through “What is ABCD?” group meetings.

Those who are partnering with us to make Street Church happen are concerned that the progress weʼve made to date will fizzle when the weather changes at the end of the summer. We are encouraging them to learn how to apply ABCD principles as we conduct Street Church. We are also working with them to plan listening and convening events with the stakeholders and residents
of the Harbor Square neighborhood.

Steve and Denise Edwards Denise serves lunches 3 days each week to the hungry of downtown Hampton.

Dancing With a Giant

Wendy McCaig – Embrace Richmond

Check out Wendy McCraig’s blog post about how to get social services agencies, the police department, the churches, non-profit agencies, and the educational institutions all working together, not around a “cause” but instead focused on a particular “community?”

Click here for the post.

Please Stop Serving!

Wendy McCaig – Embrace Richmond

This post was inspired in part by Jay’s ABCD training here in Richmond a few weeks ago.

Visit Wendy’s blog for the article.

Owning the Change

Al Santino – Northeast Community Transformation

Safe Haven’s mission statement is “to effectively love, serve and empower youth in the context of their community by educating and equipping them spiritually, creatively and intellectually, that they may own the change happening in Newark.” This mission reflects a participation in God’s eternal plan to reconcile and restore all of his creation through the work of our Lord Jesus Christ. The Apostle Paul affirms this in Colossians 1:20 when he states, “and through him [Jesus Christ] to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.” This making of peace, or shalom, through thePrince of Peace is the working of God’s kingdom to reconcile people to Himself. It is also the work of the kingdom that restores people, communities, socio-political structures and nature itself to the image of their Creator. As God’s people participate in mercy, justice, and community development, they shine forth the light of the Kingdom; a “foretaste” of the ultimate restoration of all things when Jesus returns as triumphant King.

In the Ironbound neighborhood of Newark, this light shines as Safe Haven employs teenagers and young adults from the community for their after school program and mentors them in their spiritual and social development. Growing in work responsibility, sound values, and learning how to serve the children, these teens are helping the young people to own the change in their community. Several of them have been doing surveys and speaking with other youth as to how they can own the change in their community that will result in more educational, recreational and social opportunities. Rashim has the opportunity to use his artistic gifts to teach children in the after school program. Martin is helping to organize a boxing program that will utilize discipline to help young people address important life issues. Eric Morgan, the Crossover Teen Ministry leader, is mentoring several young people who he hopes will eventually own the change as leaders in this ministry. God is planting seeds of shalom that are growing to bring transformation to this community. His kingdom is on the move in Newark!

A Wider Net – Insights from Courtney Allen

Wendy McCaig – Embrace Richmond

Can you just imagine if every congregations in this country pledged a $ to urban ministry for every $ spent on buildings? Hope you all are inspired and encouraged by this story. While there is no direct CFA connection, there are clear ABCD principals at play. Would love a church partner like this in my city!

Click here for A Wider Net – Insights from Courtney Allen

Faith In Action Committee Visions

Al Santino – Northeast Community Transformation

Fordham Manor Reformed Church
By Doncine Kelly, Coordinator

On Nov 4, 2010 Doni Kelly and Margaret Donato attended the Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition Leadership Council Meeting as co-chairs for Fordham Manor Reformed Church.  As representatives of Fordham Manor, it was determined that a Faith In Action Committee would be formed at the Church.  The Faith In Action Committee is a bible based self-advocacy group that meets the third Monday of every month, and has dedicated its energy to the betterment of the residents of the neighborhood it serves.  It has become the voice of the Church and the community in regard to housing, employment, and education.

On Nov 18, 2010 The Fordham Manor Reformed Church Faith In Action Committee held its first meeting.  Immediately, landlord-tenant and Dept of Education issues took center stage.  One of the congregants, Rose Rehfield expressed the horrendous conditions in her apartment that her landlord had refused to correct.  The Committee determined that a fact finding mission was in order.  Rose and Amanda Altman, our staff member from NWBCCC, literally tracked the none existent landlord office to the landlord’s home address at which time a letter was sent requesting his immediate attention to the matters at hand as well as to our local politicians.  Within three weeks, not only had the work been done in Rose’s apartment but work had begun throughout the building.  It was a successful resolution to an ongoing problem.

The Dept of Education, in its infinite wisdom, decided to use P.S. 86, one of the best elementary schools in the city, as an experimental project by eliminating the 6th grade class and importing 7th graders.  Because their logic escaped us, we decided to protest along with numerous parents associations, teachers, principals, NWBCCC education staffers and local politicians at the Community Education Council Meeting at P.S. 447 on Thursday, Nov 18, 2010.  At least 300 plus were in attendance.  As a result, the motion was shelved until 2012 at which time we will again present logical, cogent points and principles for why this project should be defeated.  As of this time, we have yet to receive an explanation as to why this was being done.

In the future, the Committee will endeavor to address the following:

FIAC Core Organizing Workshop with Al Santino, Director at Northeast Community Transformation

Four part workshop on organizational skills and application

FIAC Low Income Housing Application Workshop with Marcus Soler FIAC Member & NWBCCC Board Member

Meeting eligibility requirements
Understanding application process
Alternative resources
Information access

Pathway Community Church Launches Community Ministry

This past fall I spent working with Pastor Tony Brown to educate the congregation on what we are doing in the community and how it fits in with God’s plan to transform communities. We had one major project, which was to help a neighbor to finish his shed. This was in the Elm Street Trailer Park. The gentleman was unable to do the work due to injuries, and was being threatened with eviction. Four people attending Pathway Community Church were involved, as well as the young man’s step-father. Two of the men from the congregation also live in the neighborhood. Joe Robles and his family live next to Bryan Hetherman, who is the gentleman that needed the help. Some time later the church  held a prayer walk in the neighborhood and we met a few more of our neighbors. I was also involved in helping another woman from the congregation build a shelter for her horses.

Pastor Tony and I will continue the education of the congregation. One of the projects that I want to finish before the month of January is up is to interview a couple of the people in the church that live in the trailer park. I intend to ask the basic initial survey questions starting with what they like about the trailer park. After doing the interviews, which I will be recording, I will edit them and we will play the video for the whole congregation to see. We would also like to hold a prayer tour so that people will at least be able to see the neighborhoods we will be working in and pray for their neighbors. We also have two people in the congregation who need help to make it through the winter. One gentleman needs a shed built so that he can supplement his income by raising dogs, and another gentleman needs help winterizing his house.

The biggest challenges we are facing right now is to get people educated enough in Asset Based Community Development so that we can expand beyond doing individual projects in response to needs and help build community among our neighbors.

By Ted Bessey
Community Development Team Coordinator

The Rosewood Initiative

By Shawn Patrick Higgins

A short film I made with the students of the S.C.E.N.E summer program, a joint youth-media- education project of Oregon Partnership and Portland Community Media.

Go to:

Interviews shot entirely by PDX high-school students!

A brief look into an often neglected part of Portland & the unorthodox community-building / alternative crime reduction project the Portland & Gresham police (and others!) are involved in; “The Rosewood Initiative.”

The Students were able to spend half a day in the Rosewood Area, (a fusion community split between the jurisdictional lines of Portland’s Centennial / Glenfair neighborhoods & the Gresham neighborhood of Rockwood) filming interviews, listening to the resident’s personal stories, and speaking to them about the effect that drugs & drug-use have had on their community.

And a special thanks to the officers of the Portland East Precinct who took the time to come out and spend the day with the students!

Going Deep In Partnership

Northeast Community Transformation is excited to announce a new venture in our collaborative partnership with Safe Haven Urban Redemption in Newark, NJ.

Safe Haven is a youth development ministry affiliated with Trinity Reformed Church (Reformed Church in America) in the Ironbound community.  Their mission is to empower youth and their families to be the spiritual and social change agents of their community.  This is being accomplished through ministries such as after school, teen employment, arts and music, summer camp, and partnerships with the local school, parents association and health clinic.

Founder and Director Danny Iverson, who has become a dear colleague and friend to Al Santino, is embarking on seminary studies in Florida and will be working long distance.

To help fill is some of the gaps, Al will serve as community development Strategy Coach for six hours per week for the year July, 2010-June 2011.  His role will be to encourage the staff  in developing creative community focused programs and leadership skills.  We believe this going deep” partnership will be a blessing to both NECT and Safe Haven as we give and receive from each other the expertise, gifts, and synergy to work for God’s Kingdom coming to the Newark Ironbound community.

Please pray for this partnership as it represents a deeper level of engagement for NECT that could serve as a model for a strategic focus for empowering our partners and their communities.

Al has been meeting with a group of summer teen employees to discuss how they can own the change in their community through persuading their peers to come together to work together on issues which are critical to their well being.

Some of the issues raised by the teens included  having a safe place for socializing and recreation and using music as a positive, creative force for good.

Al encouraged them to see their job at the Safe Haven summer youth program as an opportunity to grow in community as they affirm each other’s gifts and abilities.

One young person commented that he came to make a few dollars but now is actually enjoying working with the children.

Safe Haven Community Coordinator Jason Bundy will be following up with the youth to help them “own the change”.

NECT News Briefs Fall 2009

Community Assessment Workshop At Midland Park CRC:

On September 15 NECT Director Al Santino led a workshop at Midland Park Christian Reformed Church on “Developing God’s Eyes and Heart For Our Community.” He was invited by the Ministry Renewal Team which is seeking to develop pathways to engage the church in the life of their community.

Al discussed some ways of getting to know and serve the community such as prayer walking, community surveys, and participation in community events and organizations. Forty people from the church attended.

Howard Yeaton, a Ministry Team member was encouraged; “We need to walk the walk of developing relationships in the community. We don’t have to do it all ourselves. Church and community resources can be shared for the benefit of the community.”

TRI-BRO Diaconal Network is Getting to Know Their Communities:

Several ministries in the Haledon-North Haledon-Prospect Park New Jersey region have been working together to serve the community at-large with efforts such as English As A Second Language and immigration education and legal assistance. Northeast Community Transformation has been facilitating this collaboration.

In order to better know, serve, and work with their communities the Network has been conducting community surveys. The surveys are designed to be a conversation rather than just a means to obtain information.

Members are being challenged to interact with their community and the ministries will be better able to shape their mission to represent God’s Kingdom in word and deed. The Network ministries include: Bridgeway Community Church, New Hope Community Ministries, Covenant Christian Reformed Church, Unity CRC, El Buen Pastor CRC and Apoyo Community Center.

For more information on Northeast Community Transformation email Al Santino.

Neighbors Supporting Neighbors in Germantown

Penny Meads, along with church and community volunteers, is making a difference in her Germantown, Philadelphia neighborhood. Since January she has been serving as an AmeriCorps Member through Germantown Hope Community Church, which is an NECT partner. However, being a community organizer or “mother” to her Tacoma St. block is not a new role for Penny. She has been a concerned and caring neighbor for the nine years she has been living there. Six years ago Penny started attending Germantown Hope where she has grown in her faith and is now a deacon. The Lord is using her “gift of community” to draw others to Himself and to each other as neighbors supporting neighbors.

Along with faithful volunteers such as Sis, Hanna and Donna, Penny is encouraging neighbors to work together. Flower pots are now seen alongside the row houses. A monthly clean up day has been established. Activities for the children such as a movie night are underway. Neighbors are meeting to discuss street crime issues.

The work is not always easy, as Penny and her team often encounter an atmosphere of apathy, despair and fatalism. Through it all Penny has been persistent, with a passion to make life better on Tacoma Street. She comments on what brings her joy; “Having the people respond and come together…helping neighbors and connecting them to resources…removing the drug trafficking…seeing our young people being productive.”

Pastor Kyuboem Lee comments on the effect of the AmeriCorps program: “Not only has Ms. Penny grown, her supervisor, Scott, another deacon, also has grown in his leadership. Others in the church support the work through prayer and volunteering, especially the other ladies from the community who live on the same block as Ms. Penny. There is a growing awareness in the church and excitement over ministry with the community-and that means a growth in our appropriation of the kingdom life and in more fully living out our mission.”

Working for Justice

NECT & Christian Reformed Campus Ministry sponsored two days of “Justice Action” activities, Friday, November 13 & Sunday, November 15.

On Sunday, April 26, Rev. Ken Vander Wall went to the National Mall in Washington, DC for a “Display of Shoes For Darfur.” Forty-thousand pairs of shoes–symbolic of the 400,000 people killed in the conflict in Darfur (the western part of Sudan) stretched almost as far as the eye could see. God laid it on Ken’s heart to have a similar display in northern New Jersey.

The goal was to collect at least 20,000 pairs of shoes (one for every 20 victims of this horrible tragedy). Colleges, high schools, grade schools and churches in MA, PA, NJ & NY participated. All of the shoes were displayed Sunday Afternoon, November 15 at a location in northern New Jersey. Following the display, all acceptable shoes were distributed to homeless shelters across the nation by Soles4Souls, a nationally recognized charity.

Thanks to all who participated and made this a success!

On Friday, November 13th Al Santino and Campus Minister Ken Vander Wall spoke at Cedar Hill CRC in Wycoff, NJ. They spoke about the need for justice action in our communities and in our world. This spurred discussion of practical ways to be involved in “releasing the oppressed” in the name of Jesus.

An Immigrant’s Pathway of Hope

Northeast Community Transformation has established a partnership with Nachman and Associates, which is providing vital education and legal assistance to our partner ministries and their communities.

Lisbel first came to the US in 1994 as a six year old burn victim through Healing the Children, an agency which brings medical care to poor children throughout the world. Dan and Jule Ann Martin of Covenant CRC, and their children, became Liz’s host family. They cared for her while she made visits back and forth from the Dominican Republic to receive treatment. Indeed, Liz and the Martins had become family. By age 20, with the support of her family in DR, Liz had decided to stay in the US to fulfill her hopes and dreams.

She desired to attend college and study psychology so that she could become a counselor helping people like herself who have been through trauma. However, as the case with many immigrants who are seeking to live fruitful lives in the US, they are subject to a “broken” and often arbitrary system. Liz was initially turned down for her Student Visa for what David Nachman considered no good reason. However through the advocacy of his law firm, the persistence of the Martins, and Liz’s determination not to quit, she was granted her Visa a few weeks ago.

Liz and the Martins attribute this victory to the grace and plan of God. Liz states that she was “wondering what was going to happen but I am now excited, happy and relieved.” She did not lose hope after the initial rejection believing that God wanted her in the US to fulfill her dreams. She also believes that “God did not want it to be easy. If it was too quick, you don’t value it.”

The story of Liz is one example of how NECT’s partnership with Nachman and Associates has helped to create hope and justice for “aliens” seeking to dwell in peace in our land. NECT is also supporting efforts such as ESL, citizenship classes and advocacy for immigration reform along with the Office of Social Justice of the Christian Reformed Church. Please pray for and consider participating in these efforts through a financial contribution and by being actively involved as a servant of justice. For more information about NECT’s Justice Education Program, contact Al Santino.

Strong Citizens and Effective Ministry: We Need Both for Stronger Communities

When ministries engage with the full range of community resources, they are more effective. They are more powerful community actors when they are effectively connected to the citizens, resources and other assets of the local community, rather than simply focused on needs, problems, and deficiencies.

We are called by God to be good neighbors, working to bring His shalom to our communities. Asset‐Based Community Development (ABCD) offers an important set of skills and tools to build relationships with your neighbors, community organizations and institutions in order to work together for the common good.

NECT offers a variety of resources to help your church or ministry make these connections. We offer consulting and tools to help with strategic planning — from developing mission, vision and organizational capacity, to establishing measurable goals and outcomes, and multi‐year goal planning.

In addition, NECT can assist with program development — practical steps in organizing your ministries in response to community needs, identified through community input and participation.

Our goal is to provide both a framework and a set of tools designed to improve a ministry’s capacity to transform its neighborhood, to give communities a foretaste of what they will be when Jesus comes again to make all things new!

Al Santino, NECT Director

To find out more about NECT email Al Santino by


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 335 other followers

Powered by