NBN hopes groups benefit from network of sharing
(pictured above: NBN’s Dee Washington greets meeting attendees.)
Neighbors For Better Neighborhoods’ grantees will now be called “community teams,” the grassroots community organizing nonprofit announced last Thursday evening during a meeting at the Augsburg Community Center.
NBN gives grants funded by the Winston-Salem Foundation to organizations and initiatives so that they can use them to improve the lives of those in their communities.
The move away from the term “grantees” is a way to acknowledge that NBN, which has three staff members, makes an impact only through those projects and organizations it funds, said NBN Program Officer Dee Washington.
“The relationship that NBN has with all of you is this: we are support staff for the work that you do,” she said. “Neighbors For Better Neighborhoods does not exist without you, the work of creating a better neighborhood does not happen unless you do it.”
The move is beyond semantics, she told the community teams. It includes bi-monthly meetings that will be held to allow teams to network and learn about resources and opportunities. At last week’s meeting, for instance, Dara Silver, grant director for the Arts Council of Winston-Salem and Forsyth County, talked about a small grant program offered by the Arts Council for non-arts groups that want to infuse the arts into their communities.
Community teams shared stories with one another and the results of their grant-funded projects. Many of the community teams consisted of neighborhood associations from communities like Neal Place, Cityview, Easton and Dreamland Park, Konnoak Hills and Piedmont Park that used grants for things like youth activities and starting community gardens.
Kenneth Holly of the Southeast Community Association said the grant the organization received helped it launch a successful youth program, which teaches things like entrepreneurship.
“In order for us to make it, we have to be a community and help one another,” he said.
There are other kinds of community teams. Sandra Sherrill-Oliver started her non-profit, Hosanna House of Transition, in her own house in 1999, and it has grown into a multi-unit complex for the homeless. As she helped people by giving them shelter, she said she saw little change in the behavior that led them there in the first place.
The NBN grant she received paid for a trip to the Delancey Street Foundation in San Francisco, which houses and trains ex-offenders, former addicts and others in need by putting them to work at its restaurant, theater and other business ventures. The Delancey Street Foundation has graduated more than 18,000 people since 1971.
“I appreciate the opportunity to go out to see someone really do what my heart is telling me I could do,” Sherrill-Oliver said.
She wants to re-create the Delancey Street model here by starting with a laundry mat and refreshment center at the corner of East 25th and Liberty streets. She will provide training and employment opportunities at the establishment, which she plans to open in September. Though housing will no longer be the focus of Hosanna House, Sherrill-Oliver said she will still provide transitional housing if those participating in her new venture need it.
Alvin Borders started the nonprofit “The How Is Your Heart Project” after seeing heart disease take too many, too soon.
“We got tired of seeing minorities dying at 45 or 55 years old,” he said.
The Heart Project’s grant was used to buy the insurance required in order for the organization to be a food vender at events like the Dixie Classic Fair and Winston-Salem Dash games; vending profits are funneled back into the organization. The Heart Project has already staged a health-theme play, which Borders wrote, and conducted heart-health walks. Plans are underway to expend educational services, Border said.
Shannon Brooks and Michelle Spears talked about how their Women’s and Girls’ Project used its grant to launch programs that teach self-esteem, entrepreneurship, finances and healthy living to girls who live in La Deara Crest and the Cleveland Avenue Homes communities. Before they wrapped up their presentation, they had received several invitations from neighborhood association members to bring the Women’s and Girls’ Project into their communities.
“We are out here trying to make a difference with these little girls and these young women,” Brooks said.
Jonathan’s Legacy: Connections of Hope used its grant to replenish the book shelves at the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center with gently-used books that focus on relevant subjects for students, said Executive Director Beryl Mankins.
“If you want a challenge, it’s finding gently read books that are STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math)-focused …, ” said Mankins, whose group will be giving away books to children during a book club event at the community center later this summer.
The other community teams in attendance were Team B.A.M. (Becoming A Man), which mentors young men; Justice Marathon Outreach Ministry, which supports inmates’ children; the Mami Watta Cultural Arts Collective, which uses African drumming and dancing for outreach; the educational advocacy group Connecting Communities for Education; and NBN-Salem StoryCorps, which records and preserves local stories, including those of NBN’s community teams.
Learn more about NBN by calling 336-602-2519.