Neighborhood Services News
All you need to do is call!
Willie Patterson – Central Community Liaison:
On the morning of November 17 I had an eerie, nervous feeling as the Believe 2 Become Central Zone was about to gather one last time before launching into school-based strategies. That feeling quickly changed to elation and pride as more than 360 residents came out to address the needs of children and educational concerns of the community.
As residents moved quickly into the breakout groups based on the schools in the Central Hope Zone, the rooms filled with energy and a seriousness that had not been apparent in previous meetings. The facilitators immediately got to work making sure that the voices of the community were heard and recorded; they especially made sure the residents that didn’t feel as comfortable to speak had the opportunity to share their thoughts.
Throughout the night I had the opportunity to stop into each group, introduce myself and encourage each resident to stay involved in this growing movement. As I was leaving the Ford Middle School breakout session, one parent raised her hand with a concern saying, “I want to be involved in the parent meetings that happen in school but I’m not able to attend because when they are held I am at work.” Over half of the group concurred, and I assured them that if we, as parents come together to voice our concerns over issues such as this, the schools would have to listen. If they worked collectively, anything that they wanted to see happen would happen because they came together. The entire room applauded and the first school-based strategy call to action began!
After the meeting the same resident who spoke up earlier stopped me in hallway and said, “All you need to do is call and I will be there. Let me know when you need me.” I thanked her for coming out and told her I would be following up soon. As the night drew to a close, I was confident that after a year and a half of community planning we had the right residents at the table and this movement was beginning to impact the community in the way it was intended. Parents, children, and neighbors believed and now they are becoming a part of the collective work for change.
Believe 2 Become is a collaborative partnership of hundreds of organizations and individuals who believe in the unlimited potential of Grand Rapids children, and expect them to succeed. Believe 2 Become is creating real opportunities for children and youth to become the people they aspire to be.