For residents, John Munro, Concheta Williams, Sonia Morris, and Kenny Gabriel, volunteering their time to support their fellow neighbors has become second nature. Since arriving at the Preserve at Emerald Villas, these individuals have embraced a shared vision: fostering a vibrant community, giving voice to residents’ needs, and addressing problems with effective solutions. They have organized transportation for medical appointments and essential goods, facilitated game nights and weekly conversations with coffee to reduce social isolation, and advocated for an onsite food pantry. Their commitment and unwavering dedication has transformed the Preserve at Emerald Villas, a senior living (55+) apartment complex, into a welcoming place where neighbors feel at home and a sense of belonging.
In recognition of their commitment and vested interest in the community’s well-being, these four exceptional residents were selected to participate in the annual NeighborWorks® America’s Community Leadership Institute (CLI) hosted in San Francisco, CA, from October 23 to October 26, 2023.
The CLI is NeighborWorks® America’s largest resident-centered invitation-only training event that gathers volunteer leaders, resident-driven groups, and stakeholders from across all 50 states to network, share best practices, and learn key skills for revitalizing American communities. This event recognizes residents as key players and valuable assets to impacting change in their communities. The CLI pays homage to NeighborWorks®’ founder, Dorothy Richardson, an African American community leader credited with advocating for better housing through collaboration as a means to revitalize her neighborhood, a formerly blighted community in Pittsburgh, PA.
During their trip, the CLI team engaged in workshops centered on leadership and community building and engagement. The team shared that they learned valuable insights from networking with peer leaders from across the country while developing formal skills that will be beneficial to their Preserve community. ONIC staff present on the trip included Alexis Collins, Vice President of Resource Development & Resident Services, and Yvonne Harris, Resident Services Coordinator.
Following their return, the team has scheduled weekly meetings with Ms. Harris, to develop an action plan for engaging the community.
We are excited to see what the ONIC Preserve CLI team will create.