Neighborhood Services News
One Community. One Voice. One Goal.
On a beautiful summer night, hundreds gathered to a cast a vote for their future. The night was full of energy, music, snow cones, food and prizes, but the heart of the 3rd community meeting in West was identifying one community goal. And when the songs stopped playing, the discussions quieted down and the two hundred plus ballots were counted, the community had dedicated itself to work to ensure that their “Children are well-rounded, healthy, and prepared to be successful in life by what they learn at home, in school, and in the community.” How brilliant.
Linguistically and racially the crowd was as diverse as the West Neighborhood but nobody could doubt the unity in commitment to ensuring the success of their children. Everyone cared about the success of their children in school. Everyone cared about the safety of their children in their community. Everyone cared about being involved in their children’s education. And everyone was willing to commit their time to ensuring that their children would reach success, as one participant put it “if we all work together, there won’t be a gap where a child can fall through.”
This goal not only identifies the importance of preparing children for success, it highlights the critical role that everyone plays in achieving this goal. Families, teachers, counselors and school administrators, neighbors, local business owners, nonprofit leaders and church members are all imperative in the creation of a holistic support system for children.
Monica Zavala, a parent in the neighborhood said “it is important for us to provide positive examples for children in school and in the home. Together we can fight bad deeds with good deeds.”
Jaslin Cardenas, an eleven- year-old headed into 5th grade, participated in the middle-school break out session and shared a bit of their discussion: “Kids are affecting families with gangs. They are bringing violence into the home.” Two of Jaslin’s uncles have been involved in gang violence and it is clear that her exposure to that ugliness has caused her to become more adamant about staying away from these influences. She also explained a commercial she had recently seen depicting a video game screen with a window leading into a picture screen with a youth typing, “Kids get distracted with video games and need parents to keep track of them in school.”
On Thursday, August 25, in at least one neighborhood in Grand Rapids, the distractions were removed and the track was set to ensure all kids succeed, not just with the help of their parents but from the entire community.