Stabilizing low-income neighborhoods through local leadership

inCOMMON Community Development; Learn more: www.inCOMMONcd.org; Photo credit: Hope Jewell-Vinson

Fanny is one of our incredible leaders and friends in Park Avenue. She’s been an inCOMMON ESL student, has volunteered as a neighborhood block leader for the past two years, and was among the inaugural graduating class of our Local Leader School. Fanny’s the epitome of an empowered neighborhood leader.

Tragically, like many families in the neighborhoods inCOMMON works, Fanny’s family was hit hard by Covid-19. A job loss made it difficult to put food on the table. In response, inCOMMON staff connected her to a food pantry operated by a local church partner. Never one to keep a good thing to herself, Fanny began inviting her family, friends, and neighbors to participate. Through her leadership, over 20 families were connected to this resource.

Inspired by her initiative, inCOMMON hired Fanny to serve as a neighborhood outreach worker to identify additional needs throughout her neighborhood. It’s been a joy to add the title “co-worker” onto Fanny’s growing list of roles in our community.

Like you, we believe the most effective way to strengthen vulnerable neighborhoods is to equip local leaders to do the work themselves. Fanny’s story reminds us that the most important resource disinvested neighborhoods need is more “Fannys” – local leaders equipped to support their neighborhood and lead change in their community.

Fanny’s story also shows us why having community centers in inCOMMON’s focus neighborhoods is so crucial. Without the support of the Park Ave Commons community resource center, Fanny wouldn’t have had access to ESL classes, leadership training, or basic resources her neighbors needed in these challenging times.