Wednesday, August 10, 2011 article about Deer Park program What the Future Community Leaders of Omaha Are Doing This Summer

Last month ran a great article about our CCL pilot program. I recall answering questions about the pilot but didn't know when the article was going to run.  Sorry for the delayed notification, I just read this for the first time today. Below are a few highlights of the article.

Photo by Jessica Clem

"What the Future Community Leaders of Omaha Are Doing This Summer"
By Jessica Clem
Published on July 3, 2011

"When high school students picture summer, they typically imagine late mornings, late nights, and hours of carefree freedom.

But for 15-year-old Lucy Chung and and a dozen other students, summer instead begins with a 9 a.m. wakeup call, a 10 o’clock class, and community project work by 10:30. While many of her peers are still sleeping away a cheeseburger-and-soda hangover, Chung is out making her community better.

Her reason? “It’s good for the neighborhood!”

Chung is a participant in the 2011 pilot program Cultivating Community Leaders (CCL), a project focused on teaching young people the importance of community service and to help improve South Omaha’s housing stock. Created by Deer Park Neighborhood Association President Oscar Duran, this program encourages young people to recognize their potential as community leaders."
"CCL is a 10-week program that began in June and will wrap up in mid-August. Duran leads the classroom sessions, held at Metro Community College. Elizabeth Moldenhauer and I from the Neighborhood Center work in the field with the kids, with Duran’s home as base. It’s a versatile program that will not only enhance resumes but also create a sense of pride in their communities.

Duran has expanded the program by partnering with his employer Habitat for Humanity and the Neighborhood Center. Both organizations have helped in program development and have been assets to building upon the program mission. “I noticed that there was a gap in community service,” said Duran. “There was a significant difference in who had the energy and the resources to volunteer. I felt inspired by the active members of other organizations and started thinking about how we can improve the numbers of volunteers. Then I realized the number one asset was young people. That’s how this program came about.”

Omaha Neighborhood Scan volunteers in Deer Park
"This program requires commitment from the kids. A typical day would be me giving wake-up calls at 9 a.m., and to make sure everyone has a ride to Metro,” said Duran. “We get everyone together by 10 a.m., by 10:30 we are dispersing maps and are doing foot patrols through the neighborhood. We usually wrap up around 2:30 p.m. and then have lunch.”

"They are truly dedicated and work quickly and efficiently during scans. They have no problems talking with residents who are curious as to why they are looking at their homes, and can respond in English and Spanish, breaking language barriers. Maria Gomez, 14, has no issue talking to residents. In fact, she enjoys it. “I explain what we are doing so they know that we are not just scanning, but also helping them,” she said.

For these students, their summer is more ideal than the stereotypical dream. They are making their neighborhoods better and helping keep their communities alive and healthy. Through the CCL program, these kids will inspire people to take pride in their communities and their city for years to come."

A special thanks to Ms. Clem for such a great article promising the amazing work these kids are doing. Please visit this link to read Ms. Clem's full article.

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