Engage Henderson team meetings

Some of our Engage leaders met with the USI team in May and we had an extensive discussion about what the teams needed and the best way to move forward on the six East End priorities. All Engage leaders will be receiving a “playbook” document from our USI team that will give you some guidance is shaping objectives and leading your team. In addition, the USI team will be joining us for some of our upcoming team meetings to help craft our objectives and sharpen our focus.

If you are on a team, leading a team or want to be on a team, here is the upcoming meeting schedule….

All meetings will be on Wednesdays at 5:30p at the Dance Hall in the heart of the future East End Arts District at 1401 Powell Street.

Wednesday: July 11th- 1. Arts District team and  2. Community Center team

Wednesday: July 18th – 3. South Heights team and 4. Infrastructure team

Wednesday: July 25- 5. Eliminate Drugs team and 6. After school activities/Mentors

Note: we will be doing a luncheon at the Global Leadership Summit which will be at One Life Church on August 9 and 10th which will provide for churches and community leaders an update on Engage Henderson and the team’s progress.

A Sample of a Community One Project

Our Engage team met yesterday with city and church leaders to share more about our partner, Community One. Community One is a data base that connects community resources with needs. Here is a great example of how an actual need was posted to provide opportunities for community volunteers to serve. Check out Community One at Community1.org.  In case you can’t read the fine print, the Project Description says:“Elderly women-lives alone-owns her own home-needs assistance painting the top of her house because she is not able to climb the ladder. Needs to have this finished by October 1st because her insurance company is threatening to cancel. Lives on a limited income.”This Community One Project is being handled, but partnering will allow us to find more needs and more opportunities to serve and impact neighorhood needs.

Henderson: East End Priorities

In 2011, Engage Henderson began a journey of interviews, meetings, brainstorming and dreaming about what could happen in the East End neighborhood of Henderson.

Thanks to teams from University of Southern Indiana and several architects and engineers, we have developed some ideas and drawings and we are beginning to establish next steps around these priorities developed by the East End neighbors and Henderson leaders:

1. Create one community center for all in the east end

  • Inclusive
  • Parents feel child will be safe
  • Broad ownership
  • We think re-brand JFK and the vicinity
  • Start with existing facilities

2.  Provide infrastructure improvements including WiFi, improved streets and sidewalks, streetlights, signage, off street parking and greenspace including community gardens.

  • Improvements to the neighborhood aesthetics and infrastructure

3. Build on the strengths of South Heights School including:

  • New facilities
  • Adult programming
  • After school programming
  • Center of community
  • Consider medical clinic
  • Mentorship
  • Student services
  • Parenting skills

4. Have an arts and restaurant district

  • Cafes – small family owned restaurants
  • Way of re-branding the east end
  • Attract others in
  • Community incentives
  • Consider signature activities that will bring outside people in

5. Provide a safe environment for kids from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m.

  • Mentoring
  • Tutoring
  • Physical activities
  • Consider South Heights as a center (how would we get all the kids here)
  • Catalog existing facilities and programs
  • Consider Saturday’s

6. Eliminate drugs from the east end

  • Legal and illegal
  • Close meth houses
  • Develop close relationships between police and neighborhood
    • Community watch
    • Confidentiality
    • Trust both ways
  • Consider satellite police station
  • Quick response time by police
  • Early Warning help to adult users and connection with others who have rehabbed
  • Consider teen challenge

The Values that launched Engage Henderson

Early in our evaluation of the needs in Henderson, we decided that we wanted to serve the community in ways that involved multiple churches and multiple organizations. For several weeks, we interviewed a variety of local leaders and residents and found that many had a similar passion to improve the quality of life in neighborhoods that were experiencing some decline.

Key leaders from connected with others from the community and we started a group known as Engage. The basic mission of Engage is to provide a process that creates partnerships with residents and community resources to improve the quality of life in targeted neighborhoods.

We are now at various stages of involvement in the East End neighborhood in Henderson and the Jacobsville neighborhood in Evansville.

The values of Engage include:

LISTENING-Seeking to understand the dreams, gifts and strengths of people by providing a safe place for open discussion of ideas.

LEVERAGE-Building on the strengths and assets of the community

PARTNERSHIPS-Doing things WITH not just FOR the community

COLLABORATE-Focusing the gifts of many on a common vision

COMMUNITY-Serving through community and with the community by bringing those we serve into the circle

All of these values are driven by process that serves neighborhoods with residents owning the journey. It is a new paradigm of neighborhood improvement that deeply respects those who have a vested interest.

A new Engage partner-Community One

As we do neighborhood development in the East End of Henderson, we consistently see a need to create collaboration between various resources in the community and the specific needs of the neighbors. Community One is a new organization formed out of Evansville to serve the Tri-State with the following mission:

Community One: Our mission is to create and maintain sustainable, low-income housing in our community by focusing resources on repair, weatherization and rehab projects that restore decent, affordable housing in under-served neighborhoods.

Our good friend and Outreach Pastor from Crossroads Christian Church, Eric Cummings is serving as the Executive Director of Community One. Eric has been extensively involved in the Glenwood Project and brings a diverse background of community development to the leadership of this local team.

The most important contribution that Community One brings to the work of Engage, community volunteers and local churches in Henderson and Evansville is a web based, database of specific projects in neighborhoods that have been identified as needs. Once the projects are identified and posted, coaches will validate the needs and resources and provide leadership to deploy teams to serve.

As stated on the Community One web site:

This website is the project coordination hub of our work. We invite homeowners in genuine need to seek assistance with housing repairs from their neighbors, and we invite community residents and organizations to join volunteer project teams to provide assistance to neighbors with these needs. 

Stay tuned for the opportunity to start the process of coach training and posting of local opportunities.

For more information go to Community1.org

The JFK Center in East End

The Handy Blues Fest starts next week and today was Children’s Art Camp and Umbrella Workshop at the John F. Kennedy Community Center at Vine and Alvasia Streets. The JFK Center is a city owned facility that is an important assest in the East End of Henderson. The staff and facilities are exceptional and they provide a variety of programs for kids and adults in community.

Here is a quote from the web about today’s activity…..

Here is a sampling of what the kids will be doing….making newspaper hats, bead bracelets, decorating sunglasses, noise makers, as well as other items.  The umbrella workshop is also included on this day. You may bring an umbrella with you or some will be provided. The umbrellas will be decorated with flowers, ric-rac, beads and anything else that can be hot glued to an umbrella! These umbrellas can be used at the Street Strut Parade that will be held on Saturday, June 9th at 10:00 A.M. on the east side of Central Park in downtown Henderson, KY. http://www.downtownhenderson.org/childrens-art-camp-umbrella-workshop/

Here are a few pictures of today’s event…

Are we making progress?

There are 6 teams in the Engage Henderson process that are tackling the 6 big priorities that were identified by the community.

Are we making progress?

Here are some updates:

  • East End Survey - The neighborhood has been divided into 31 grids, to identify where there are abandoned or dilapidated homes, vacant lots, broken sidewalks, homes that need new or repaired roofs, lots where there is trash that needs to be picked up,etc.  This survey data is being dropped into a mapping database, so that we can identify specific areas that need the most attention and where volunteer labor can have the greatest impact….by simply looking at a map. We would like to have this done by the end of April.
  • Summer Block Party - The volunteer survey will give us an inventory of the condition of the neighborhood, but progress won’t happen without involvement of the very people we are trying to help.  A summer block party is being planned to provide food and fun,but more importantly ENGAGE neighbors in the East End vision. Survey results, a drawing/renderiong of a possible ‘future’ East End ‘look’ with bike paths, a Community Center, an Historic/Arts District, and other ‘possibilities’ will be showcased to get reactions from East End residents.  A Leadership team has been recruited for this event and planning on where and when is underway.
  • WiFi - an application for a grant money to fund one WiFi node in the Arts/Historic District has been submitted to the State of Kentucky.  This technology would provide one more ‘draw’ for people to visit the ‘East End Arts/Historic District’.
  • Community Garden - the City of Henderson is looking at a piece of property in the middle of the East End to establish a Community Garden that would be available for planting next Spring.  A native Hendersonian ‘Master Gardner’ has volunteered to lead this effort….so that East-enders who want to be ENGAGED in gardening make this happen….not outsiders.
  • Crime Prevention - East End has experienced higher rates of both violent and property crime than the City of Henderson and state of Kentucky…..by significant  margins.  The City of Henderson Police Department is providing crime reporting data to the Engage Henderson mapping databse, so that a few pocket areas of the highest crime can be identified and new strategies for prevention and law enforcement can be tested.  This information is intended to be shared at the Summer Block Party.
  • Increasing Home Ownership - When a neighborhood loses a high rate of owner occupancy, it often leads to decline.  To explore innovative ways to boost homeownership in selected areas of the East End, an initiative is underway with a consortium of Communtiy/Regional banks to offer mortage loans for rehabilitated properties.  It is the expectation that these properties would often be purchased in poor condition and then upgraded/repaired to like new condition.

Teams are evaluating kids programs, opportunities at South Heights to build on the school’s success and there is a team planning a trip to Paducah to look at their success in developing an arts district in an older neighborhood.

We also are working with USI to deploy facilitators for the teams and to help us with project management. Stay tuned.

Want to be on a team. Email engagehenderson@gmail.com.

Chronic or Crisis, Perspectives on Poverty

Chronic or Crisis

From Bob Lupton, FCS Urban Ministries and author of Toxic Charity

 crisis requires emergency intervention;

       A chronic problem requires development.

Address a crisis need with a crisis intervention,

       And lives are saved.

Address a chronic need with a crisis intervention,

       And people are harmed. 

Have you noticed that many of the same people return week after week for free food from our food pantries?  Ever wondered whether our handouts were really helping or merely perpetuating a dependent lifestyle?  Admitting and verbalizing these observations, at the risk of appearing heartless, is the essential first step toward truly effective service.

The key to effective service is accurately matching the need with the appropriate intervention.

The universal need for food is a good place to begin.  Starvation is a crisis issue; hunger is a chronic issue.  When famine sweeps a land, or a tsunami devastates coastal cities, starvation becomes an urgent, life-and-death situation.  Emergency food supplies must be rushed in without delay.  But in a stable nation with abundant supplies of food and adequate government food subsidies, occasional hunger – not starvation – is the reality that faces the less advantaged.  Food insecurity is a chronic, not crisis, poverty issue.

Food security is what free-food advocates talk about these days.  That means access by all people at all times to enough food for an active, healthy life.  The poor in our country, roughly 15% of our population, are food-insecure at least some time during the year.  Even though four out of five of these households receive food from the government, there are times when their cupboards are bare.

But food-insecurity is not a crisis issue. It is a function of chronic poverty.  Unlike during the great depression of the 1930’s when one in four of our workers stood in bread lines with no government safety net to rescue them, today more than 90% of our workforce is employed and our public subsidies are ample.  Hunger is not our problem.  Poor nutrition perhaps, but not hunger.  Food insecurity is a chronic poverty issue and chronic problems require altogether different strategies from crisis problems.

Starvation is a crisis need;  Hunger is a chronic issue.

Address hunger (chronic) with a free feeding program (crisis); And unhealthy dependency occurs.

As our hearts constrain us to intervene on behalf of our needy neighbors, we certainly want our responses to be effective.  And to be truly effective we must match the need with the appropriate response.  Distributing free food (an emergency response) is seldom an appropriate response to those facing chronic food-insecurity.  It may seem compassionate at the moment but in all likelihood it will prove to be more hurtful than helpful.

But isn’t it a crisis when a family does not know where their next meal is coming from?    Admittedly, this is a crisis of a sort, the type of crisis that spurs one to action.  Hunger is a powerful motivator.  It stretches budgets.  It drives creativity.  It forces choices.  It accepts peanut butter sandwiches over McDonald’s big-meals, cool-aide over coke, beans and rice over potato chips and dip.  Food insecurity may not be all bad.

Lest we become hard-hearted and err on the judgmental side, however, let’s proactively pursue some helpful responses to chronic hunger.  Of course, one of the best antidotes to food insecurity is decent employment.  Adequate income provides adequate food.  And, as ancient Talmudic wisdom contends, the highest form of charity is to provide a man a job.  Employment training and job creation is obviously a major shift from the food pantry paradigm but it is certainly one that should be considered.  Another alternative more directly related to food is the food cooperative – a “buying club” model that gives members legitimate access to surplus food through non-profit or church structures.  Another is a bartering system that exchanges food (and other commodities) for work performed in the community.  Rather than dependency-fostering emergency responses, these and other development strategies strengthen the capacity of people in need to assume greater measure of control and self-sufficiency over their own lives.

Compassion is essential but not sufficient – the mind as well as the heart must be engaged.

The Golden Rule of empowering service:

Never do for others what they have the capacity to do for themselves.

Bob Lupton, April 2012