At the Mel King Institute's 12th Anniversary Virtual Breakfast, stories of community resilience were on the menu. About 150 leaders from across the Bay State came together on Zoom to celebrate what has been a tremendously challenging year. MACDC Board Member and Main South CDC’s Casey Starr led the program, helping us highlight the many different ways community organizations have stepped up during the pandemic. After having all of the interesting presentations and discussions, it is clear that this past year can be summed up in two general yet very powerful words: resiliency and leadership.
One central point during the Breakfast event was the announcement of the Mel King Institute’s Resident Leadership Academy, which will be officially launched this fall. Through this new program, the Mel King Insitute’s training sessions and helpful events will reach residents directly in CDCs and other kinds of subsidized housing. By expanding the availability of our resources, we can help foster resident power and engagement. Taking from our 2021 Yearbook, “the training helps residents build networks of shared power, as well as build key skills such as running meetings, communications, issue identification and taking action.” Our impact is clear and over the past year, we have:
- Trained 120 residents;
- Offered 82 training sessions;
- Offered 8 open roundtables;
- Engaged 52 housing authorities across the Commonwealth.
In all, we have trained 361 residents all time, allowing communities to harness and effectively utilize both their individual and collective power.
Also on the menu was a fascinating and enriching conversation with Marietta Rodriguez, President and CEO of NeighborWorks America. Throughout the discussion, Marietta further introduced ways for community leaders to lift up the residents around them. As we all looked back on a year dominated by public health and emergency action plans, Marietta explained how communities can become stronger now more than ever, especially as old challenges persist and new ones begin as the Commonwealth recovers.
Through engaging pieces of poetry, Mah Camara and Maria Luisa Arroyo helped us bring context to the challenges facing Massachusetts and every corner of the world. As we look ahead to steadily reopening in-person sessions and trainings, and as we prepare to face these future challenges head on, Maria Luisa Arroyo’s “Learn 2 Teach, Teach 2 Learn” sums it up best: “According to Mel King, it is all about access.” You can read the poems in the 2021 Yearbook.
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