Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Cultivating Community Leaders in the Deer Park Neighborhood

Hey Everyone,
Don't forget, the Deer Park Spring Cleanup is this weekend. 

I wanted to let everyone know that Deer Park is going to be a part of an exciting pilot project that is starting June 6, 2011.  Below is a narrative that sums the general scope of the pilot. 

Impact One Community Connection’s goal is to connect the people of the Omaha community with available resources here and beyond. They focus on assisting at-risk youth and young adults by providing gang intervention and prevention, employability training, job placement, re-entry assistance and referral services. Through a hand up, not a hand out approach, Impact One strives to empower the individuals they work work with to take control of their lives and move towards positive change.

Through Impact One’s Great Summer Jobs Program, they provide summer job opportunities for youth and young adults throughout the community. Participants engage in employment and life skills training prior to being placed at various job sites throughout the city. This program provides participants with leadership skills and teaches them to be responsible.  The Great Summer Jobs Program provides 150 jobs to area youth and leaves each participant with work experience. 

Habitat for Humanity of Omaha’s Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative (NRI) uses an asset-based community development model to work with neighborhood members to utilize existing strengths. Through this program, Habitat Omaha will work with neighborhood leaders to identify and solve other needs/problems in the community (ie: street repair, litter control, homeownership preparedness, etc.). 

The NRI goal is to identify and fully understand assets within the neighborhoods and incorporate said assets within a neighborhood redevelopment plan. As NRI conducts neighborhood, house by house, scans using the Omaha Neighborhood Center’s Neighborhood Scan Program, Habitat Omaha will integrate Habitat housing solutions as appropriate, including: land acquisition, New Home Projects, Rehab Home Projects, Critical Home Repairs (roof replacements and other exterior repairs), and demolitions.

Cultivating Community Leaders (CCL) is a pilot program that builds upon Impact One’s Summer Jobs Program & Habitat for Humanity’s Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative. As an extension of the Great Summer Jobs Program, CCL will teach youths the benefits and fundamentals of grass roots community engagement. For 10 summer weeks, youths will work directly with Neighborhood Associations to complete community projects while developing the youths’ sense of community ownership. CCL participants will work in a variety of projects including; neighborhood scans, graffiti scans, yard cleanups, community gardens, community outreach, and park and litter cleanups.

A variety of Omaha organizations and neighborhood alliance groups are accomplishing many positive projects in our communities, but are struggling to cultivate a new generation of civic advocates and leaders. CCL will be a step towards linking a new generation of leaders with existing community builders whom have fought to make our neighborhoods safer, beautiful, and more collective. There are many great community leaders in Omaha, and this project will showcase just how together they will continue to make positive changes in our communities. 

I want to publicly thank Impact One, Habitat for Humanity of Omaha, The Neighborhood Center, and members of the  Deer Park, Hanscom Park,  and Spring Lake Neighborhood Associations for providing the resources and vision to help me launch this pilot. I am confident that CCL could develop as a critical effort in neighborhood redevelopment and community sustainability. 

You can follow CCL efforts and progress on this blog. If you see the youths in the neighborhood make sure to thank them for helping us improve our communities.

Thanks for Reading,
Oscar Duran: Deer Park President

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