Strengthening the local community is the ultimate goal of everything that Ciudad Nueva does. We want our programs and efforts as much as possible to be owned by the community and to be sourced from within the community.
We are constantly working toward this goal, learning from past experiences and from other non-profits who are doing work similar to ours. Sometimes we learn from our mistakes, but other times things seem to come together just like they are supposed to.
These are a few examples of community-building efforts that have made a difference.
Community Development Block Grant provides new sidewalks and park facilities
Recently the city had some CDBG funds available in our district and was taking applications and ideas for neighborhood improvement. One of our staff members, Jen Kauffman, helped another community stakeholder create a grant application requesting funds to fix broken sidewalks and provide shade and benches at a neighborhood park. They worked on the grant application together and Jen took photos of the locations that needed upgrading.
A few of our grants, including the sidewalk repair and some small park improvements, were approved! Jen was also invited to a small planning meeting to give input into the repairs being made, which allowed us to connect with other community stakeholders.
“It is always good to connect with other residents and leaders in the neighborhood,” says Jen. “It allowed us to voice concerns together, talk about needs, and dream together for the future.”
There are many more projects that need to be addressed, but this victory built confidence and brought the community together.
“When you work together and get an approval, it feels good to get a victory together and know your voices were heard,” says Jen. “These community meetings allow for a coming together, reconnecting, and listening to concerns of the various parts of our community. The grant allowed for leaders to be energized and hopeful again about making a difference and seeing improvements in our community.”
Spring Fest brings the community together
The Downtown Church Connection hosts the Spring Fest every year, providing free games and food to community members. This partnership of community churches and nonprofits is a unique example of diverse groups working together for the good of the community.
Not only does the Spring Fest provide a fun event and a chance for the community to gather, but it is also a beautiful example to the community of how these diverse groups can come together despite differences in theology or practice. The sole purpose of the event is to show love to our community and to celebrate together in our neighborhood.
Throughout the year, Ciudad Nueva hosts planning meetings for the Spring Fest, working together with all the different churches and groups. Each group donates different items and is responsible for various games and activities. On the day of the event, the elementary and middle school students help set up and clean up the event.
This year was a great success and we are already looking forward to another great event next spring!
Mesa Place Church partnership
One of the larger local churches recently supported a new church plant in our neighborhood called Mesa Place Church. This is located on a corner where many homeless people congregate so much of their ministry is directed towards that population. In an effort to support one another and to avoid duplication of efforts, Mesa Place has been working with us on many programs.
Mesa Place has been collecting food to donate to our community-run food co-op. In addition to collecting food, Meaa Place has also been referring community members and homeless community members to our food co-op program. We are hopeful that together we can continue to build up our community.
This is just another way that we have been linking arms with our community to make sure that needs are met and that we are strengthening the local community in everything that we do.