21 Members in 14 Hours - A Community Development Tour
On Thursday, I had an opportunity to see 21 MACDC members in the course of 14 hours. It was a long day, but extraordinarily exciting and reinvigorating as my travels and meetings reminded me why I love this job.
I left my house at 6:40 AM in the pouring rain to attend the Greater Gardner CDC Annual Breakfast Meeting. I joined the 60+ guests a bit late, but was able to hear about the many terrific programs they offer from after-school tutoring, to small business development to affordable housing. I learned that the CDC is able to build its housing with students from Montachusett Regional Vocational Technical High School who provide the CDC with high quality and free labor while the CDC provides the students with valuable learning opportunities.
I left Gardner at 9:00 to drive to Ware for the Western Massachusetts Community Development Collaborative meeting. Thankfully, it had stopped raining as I drove along beautiful country roads and through small towns like Barre and Hardwick. Seven of our members were at the meeting and they provided each other with updates on their many activities. I learned how our members are helping small businesses recover from Huricane Irene's floods, providing supportive housing to low income residents, struggling with scattered site property management, repairing roofs destroyed by the tornado, and supplying fresh frozen vegtables to the Holyoke Public Schools.
At 12:00, I got back in my car and drove to Boston where twelve of our members were scheduled to meet with the new director of the Boston Redevelopment Authority, Peter Meade. Each CDC provided Peter with a brief summary of their current priorities and again I heard about a vast array of community improvement efforts. I heard about foreclosure counseling efforts, housing developments, commercial real estate projects, small business development, housing for the homeless, public transit, partnerships with schools, and public safety efforts. Peter expressed his admiration for their work and we discussed how the BRA and the CDCs can strengthen our existing partnerships.
After a brief visit to my office, I returned to my car at 5:30 to drive to Quincy for the 30th anniversary celebration of the NHS of the South Shore. This 10 mile drive took almost as long as the 60 mile drive to Gardner in the morning as the Southeast Expressway was jammed. So by the time I arrived the hotel ballroom was packed with over 125 guests who had come to celebrate with the NHS. Rob Corley presented a wonderful new video that highlighted how the NHS helps families with foreclosure prevention, housing, and home repairs. I also learned about their close partnership with many local organiations in Quincy, Brockton and 23 other cities and towns.
As I drove home I recounted the many things that I had heard that day. It reaffirmed my admiration for the people who work on the front lines of this movement and reminded me how lucky I am to have an opportunity to play a small role in helping them to succeed. I arrived at my house at 8:40.
Later, as I set my alarm for 5:30 AM and turned out the lights, I began thinking about all the things that I wanted to do in the office the next day. I was happy to know that I could take the Orange Line to work and skip all the traffic - and even happier that I did not have any meetings scheduled for Friday.