Summer AmeriCorps Team Week 4: Thoughts on Neighboring
Here are some of Lindsay’s thoughts from this week:
If you would have asked me years ago what the importance of being a good neighbor would be, I wouldn’t have had an answer for you. I kept to myself and didn’t go out to engage in any type of relationship with my neighbors. When I was growing up, I lived on the same street for 16 years and our block was a family; to this day I am still close with those people. However, I learned the true meaning of being a good neighbor when I moved to Hillside in Richmond, VA. I had never lived in the “projects” and it was kind of a culture shock to me and my children. I had heard such horror stories about living in the projects, I didn’t want my children playing outside and we kept to ourselves. One day Embrace volunteers knocked on my door and changed my perception. They blessed our house with furniture and one of the volunteers even came to help me clean up my apartment when I was too far long in pregnancy to do so. Once I started to interact more with the neighbors, who were very informative about things in the neighborhood, I realized what my family and I were missing. The neighbors all care about each other, we look out for each other’s children and we are there with helping hands in times of need. I am glad that my neighbors showed me the way to be a better neighbor and for that I am grateful.
Here are some of Oliver’s reflections on being a great neighbor:
I think being a good neighbor means to treat the other residents in your community the same way you would want to be treated. One of my examples of being a good neighbor is sometimes my neighbors might want to come borrow some movies, so we will switch movies and set an agreeable date to return them. Also, I might even cut my neighbors grass along with mine just to be a good neighbor. At times, they return the favor to me, which is great! I definitely feel like it is important to have a good relationship with your neighbor, because if you ever take a vacation they can keep an eye out on your property while you’re away, which is a good feeling. Last but not least, another way a lot of my neighbors develop relationships in my community is every summer we have a block party and everyone, including the new comers, get to meet each other and converse with unfamiliar faces. Overall, it is very important to me to develop a relationship with your neighbors. You never know, one day you just might need them or they just might need you!
Rudy describes his interactions with members of the community:
I had a good experience talking with someone who had a dream of what he called a “great neighborhood.” I was doing my senior story and I asked him that thought provoking question about if he could wave a magic wand across this community what would the neighborhood look like. He said that everyone in the neighborhood would be alright, he said that it meant going back to the days when you could sleep on the porch, and everyone looked out for each other. He pictured a community void of drugs and the consequences that came with it. From the dream academy class we had, he meets the qualifications of a great neighbor; he cared about his next door neighbors and his entire community. Talking with him reaffirmed my thoughts that there are a lot of people who really want community change, but haven’t been asked in a way that would get them motivated to join in the fight. Hopefully in the upcoming months we will be able to ask the right people, the right way, to get the right results.
Today, I spoke to a person who is 66 year old recovering addict. Now, to some of you, this doesn’t seem strange, so let’s break it down a little. First off, he is a 66 year old addict with almost 5 years of recovery, which means that he was in his sixties and still doing drugs. If you know anything about addiction you know that selfishness and self-centeredness is the root cause of our disease. For him to care about his community is a miracle in itself. When I asked him what he thought about the community he went on to talk about how if he could change his community he would make sure that everyone would be “alright.” He had a positive aura about him and he re-charged my belief in this community. To me, a great neighbor not only does things in and for the community, they also inspire others to do the same!!!
Roger also had a conversation with a senior member of the community:
Today during senior story out-reach, Raven and I had a brief audio recorded conversation with Mrs. Walker concerning the way the community was, how it is now, and what she would like to see happen. I felt sad because when listening to her share memories of a supportive and open community and how things have really changed in our neighborhood, I feel that at some degree she has been cheated. Our elders who have paved the way for so many have become disappointed and frustrated with the activities of our today’s youth.
Victor had some interesting thoughts while walking around the neighborhood:
Walking through the neighborhood this week was humbling and profound for me. We picked up trash on the streets in an effort to change the perception that is labeled on this community (the perception that it is not safe). While some parts of this community are not safe, not every part is that way. The trash on the streets seems to reflect a mentality of negligence or a lack of pride in the community. However, as I got to know the people, I began to see a good number of people have not given up and just go with the flow. There are people who still maintain their values and beliefs, and they work hard to keep out the negativity.
As I walked the streets, picking up trash and recycling materials, I am convicted of the simple truth that if I am faithful in the little things God might entrust me with more responsibility. Picking trash can be seen as a demeaning task, but it is a task that is essential on different levels. A trashy neighborhood can demoralize its citizens and could initiate a downward spiral. Trashy streets are an indicator of the state of the heart and mind. I am not implying that cleaning up the streets will also change what is going on in the heart and mind. I think true change has to start from within, from the grassroots level. I do believe that bad roots produce bad fruits. To change bad roots takes time, and while we take time to change the roots, we can also start removing the bad fruits to prepare room for good fruits to come. For me, cleaning the streets is a good start. For every piece of trash I pick up or every plastic bottle that I recycle, I do it unto the Lord, I do it for His glory, I do it to serve my fellow humans.
Here are some of Darron’s thoughts on his neighborhood:
I have great neighbors in my community. I call them great neighbors, because they always have positive things to say. Basically, they just want me to do well. They always make sure that the community is cleaned up and is a safe place to stay. I have one female that’s an older lady in my apartment complex that makes sure that I’m going in the right direction. In one of our conversations she asked me what are my goals in life. I explained to her that one day I want to own a small clothing store and get into college for business management. It’s nice to have great neighbors who care about the people in the community
Please enjoy Dante’s experiences with neighboring:
When you think of a good neighbor, you usually think of someone who looks out for the people in their neighborhood. When I think of a good neighbor, I think of someone who is there front and center, and knows everything that is going on. There are not too many good neighbors today, because people are so worried about people being in their business, that they don’t think that they may need those people. To have good/great neighbors is to learn how to be a good/great neighbor and then share your love with the people in your neighborhood. Once people see you doing good, they usually join in and help you, or at least tell people about your good doings. In my lifetime, I have run into only a few good neighbors, because I have not had the pleasure of staying in one place for a very long time. I knew of my neighbors in Southside because they were elderly and had lived there for a long time and also because I lived there for 8 years. They watched me grow up to be a teenager. For the past 8 years of my life I have not met any good neighbors, because people are more focused on themselves than the neighborhood. We have to model good neighboring in order to get good neighbors.