|Posted on December 18, 2014 at 1:15 PM||comments (1)|
South Main Columbus; Open Doors and Open Hearts
On September 11th Columbus State Connect2Complete participated in the National Day of Service in order to commemorate the day through the hope that service can improve our country, unite us in work, while strengthening our nation through local community engagement. As the Connect2Complete Coordinator, I contacted C2C’s community partner Genesis of Good Samaritans Ministries. It was through registering the site on allforgood.org that two other AmeriCorps groups found and joined the service site. We had a total of 27 AmeriCorps members and 2 Peer Advocates volunteers directly through C2C. For a total of 58 hours of service on September 11th.
With so many hands to help GGS Ministries was able to send us out into the neighborhood to survey households on questions pertaining to the needs of the area. Questions similar too; “How safe do you feel?”, “Would you help with a community garden?”, “What resources do you feel are lacking in the area?” The survey was done to better help GGS Ministries understand what the community wants from a community center. The South Main neighborhood of Columbus is a struggling community. With every three out of four houses on a street abandoned and overgrown, renters come and go while the neighborhood loses its sense of identity. It is the story of many poor neighborhoods; if a resident moves up in life, they move out of the area. Yards are overgrown, dogs are barking, windows are boarded up, sofas sit abandoned for months on the curb. You know the neighborhood I am talking about. It certainly isn't the worst area out there but it also isn't an area that one just casually strolls around.
At first I was a bit nervous about canvasing the neighborhood, casually knocking on doors. Would anybody open up while dinner is cooking? I think I can say that we were all surprised by the residents of South Main. They all opened their doors. Each resident that we talked to sat on the porch with us to discuss in depth the hardships and hopes of the area. They patiently went through each question on our survey, but it was all the discussion that happened not pertaining to the survey that was the heart of the conversation. The residents of South Main that I got to talk to are passionate about the neighborhood, they are looking for change but they aren't looking for it from the outside. They aren't looking for it in a community garden; they've had a garden, it got overgrown, who would work it every day? Groups come in and set up shop for a year and leave. And nothing in the end changes for the residents. They are tired of being a pet project for do-gooders.
So where did that leave me? I was the do-gooder white girl, sitting on the porch getting my hair braided by six little black girls. The residents of South Main left me with more questions for myself then I had for them on the survey. I asked myself some hard questions and had some hard discussions while on that service project. For better or worse I was surprised that people were willing to open their doors and their hearts to me. I’m not sure how much I helped GGS Ministries with their surveys. I don’t survey well, I sit, discuss and connect. So while I’m terrible at canvasing, I sure did make some good connections with people and made some good connections with myself as well.
Posted by Maria Lats on October 1 at 12:04 PM via Ohio Campus Compact Blog: http://c2cvista.blogspot.com/2014_10_01_archive.html