Guest Post: Engaging volunteers to strengthen communities

When people come together for a shared goal, great things happen. That ideal is at the center of Habitat for Humanity of Michigan’s participation in NeighborWorks Week, a nationwide celebration of the good that comes out of neighbors working and playing together. This is the 34th year that NeighborWorks America, also known as Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation, has engaged network members in NeighborWorks Week.

During NeighborWorks week, thousands of volunteers, businesspeople, neighbors, and local and national elected and civic leaders come together tohelp make their communities healthy, sustainable places. In the process they strengthen connections that lead to better neighborhoods and foster greater opportunity.

How does a community fair or neighborhood clean-up increase opportunity? By enabling people who would not usually talk to each other or work together to do so, and in the process build a better understanding of what each of us wants from and is able to give to our community.

Change happens when citizens, business people and government leaders talk to each other, often in nontraditional spaces. We’ve all heard about business deals that are crafted on the golf course. Community events give all of us the chance to ‘talk turkey’ while volunteering to paint a neighbor’s house, cleaning an abandoned lot or enjoying a pot-luck lunch or dinner.

When we work and play together, we listen to others’ input, share ideas and concerns, and create a stronger community than if we worked alone. During NeighborWorks Week (June 3-10), Habitat for Humanity of Michigan and other NeighborWorks organizations across the country will host more than 200 events that will engage thousands of residents, business people and government officials.

And the partnerships and energy unleashed this week don’t end there; Habitat for Humanity of Michigan is committed to keeping the spirit of NeighborWorks Week alive.

Habitat for Humanity of Michigan and the entire national NeighborWorks network are committed to bringing about positive change by improving lives and strengthening communities. Habitat for Humanity of Michigan, through its network of affiliates, is helping residents across the state thrive by ensuring that the core needs of individuals are met by listening to our neighbors, no matter their income or professional position, and providing or linking residents to essential services, whether those services help a person train for and find a job, understand how to buy a home, or start a small business.

Partnerships are essential to achieve long-term change and there is strength in numbers. NeighborWorks Week is a chance to engage residents and build collective capacity. We have a shared obligation to transform Michigan into a place of opportunity.

To learn more about NeighborWorks and their partner organizations, you can visit www.neighborworks.org

Brian Levinson

NeighborWorks America - Midwest Region