This is the story behind my service project. Many people contributed their time and knowledge to guide me.
Developing Communities through Service
Anyone can do community development work if they follow the principles. You don’t have to work for a non-profit or a government agency to bring about positive changes in your community. In some ways you are more qualified to develop your community as a resident. You know what resources are needed to improve the quality of life where you reside. To get started, begin by identifying a need in your community, then create a service project that will meet that need. Start out on a small scale. Become an expert on an issue you are passionate about, and then mobilize. Finally, build upon your successes. Soon someone will come to you for advice on how they can affect positive change in their community.
I took those exact steps when I launched my Urban Planning and Community Development blog in July 2008, and when I organized my event under President Obama’s Day of Service. The idea for “Saving Maplewood 1 house at a time” evolved out of a discussion I had with my professor Kathe Newman. Data she collected since 2002 indicated that a need existed for foreclosure information to be distributed in suburban communities, but that the existing grass roots work was limited to urban communities. I decided to take on the challenge. I wanted to have a big impact on Maplewood but I didn’t have the resources to go door to door. For the most impact I arranged for the distribution of two documents, one on foreclosure and one on eviction provided by the Newark Taskforce on Foreclosures to 7 locations including the main library, one church, and businesses all in close proximity to Maplewood Village, a bustling business center. I recognize that residents in other communities need this information as well. You can find links to the documents distributed, as well as links to government agencies, and organizations on my blog Perfectly Planned. Homeowners seeking to avoid foreclosure should visit The Center for Responsible Lending web site. If you are in foreclosure, and are a NJ homeowner, call the state hot line 1-888-989-5277.
I have a story to share about my service project. Mary Moore amazed me from the Center for Responsible Lending. Out of kindness she sent an overnight package at no cost that arrived the day of my service project. The package contained brochures on how homeowners can avoid foreclosures. I experienced great generosity from Stephanie Greenwood and members of the Newark Taskforce who provided the foreclosure and eviction resources I distributed. To learn more about the work of the Newark Taskforce, watch the video directed by Rosie Uyola that discuses the sub prime lending disaster, and details its effect on the City of Newark. This is a time in American history when we have to do more than is expected of us as individuals. You can change things for the better in your community. Selflessly give of yourself. My experience is that when you give freely of yourself to better your community others will offer you their assistance.
Assistance for NJ Residents Facing Foreclosures & Evictions, Online document compilation. (live link)
USA Service: A national call to service by Barak Obama
Local Weekend Event Invitation to Maplewood Residents
Issue: Foreclosures and evictions resulting from to the housing crisis are reaching epidemic proportions in communities across the country. The state of NJ has a range of resources available to help residents. The Governor has government officials in various departments working to provide relief, as are organizations like ACORN.
Event Purpose: A day to distribute pamphlets and various literature around the community. Join me in distributing literature on foreclosures and predatory lending on Saturday, 1/17/2009. The designated meeting place is Maplewood Train Station. The meeting time is 1pm.
Weekend Event Details
Event Name: ” Saving Maplewood One House at a Time”
Object: To inform Maplewood residents of their rights as homeowners and tenants through the distribution of literature on available relief programs/initiatives for homeowners and renters facing foreclosure and evictions.
Volunteers will: Distribute documents to public areas such as local libraries, local stores, the train station, and churches
Time: Saturday, January 17 from 1:00 PM – 3:00 PM. A commitment of only 1 hour is required – 15 minute orientation, and 45 minute distribution.
Host: W. S. Hughes, Maplewood resident
Location: Maplewood Train Station (Maplewood, NJ)
Register at USA Service Link —> Saving Maplewood one house at a time.
Foreclosures and evictions are personal issues many people are embarrassed about and fail to discuss until they have limited options for assistance. In an effort to assist Newark communities in crisis, Mayor Corey Booker created a Task Force on Foreclosures to encourage community outreach in educating Newark residents on their rights. A range of government officials sit on the task force, as do educators and private citizens.