After my first day at Central Community House, I knew this place was special. But, I thought to myself, “That’s just the first-day high. This is just the honeymoon phase. By next week, I will view this place as just work.”
However, yesterday marked the completion of my second week at Central Community House and I still very much like it. It is work. But, its special environment and the different tasks I get to do make it enjoyable. Central Community House is just as much a place where leaders come together to provide services to the community as it is a place that serves the community.
What I mean is that at my desk, while I am planning fundraising events and trying to figure out how to write a grant, I say hello to and smile at the children who pass by me on their way to the Center’s daycare and computer room. When I enter the lunch room to heat up my food, I am greeted by a dozen Po-ke-no playing elderly women as if I am their own granddaughter. When it nears 6 o’clock and I am finishing up my tasks for the day I hear children from the summer camp playing the piano downstairs and singing. And they sound good! I love not only serving the community of which Central Community House is located but getting to know the community– both original and new community members.
Nevertheless, getting to know the community does not always leave you with the best impression. On Tuesday, I got the chance to sit in on a meeting with a neighborhood association who shall not be named. I am censoring the full name because I do not want my blog to affect my organization’s future relationship with the neighborhood association. However! I was at the meeting because one of their events takes place on the same day and time as our fundraiser. So, our goal is to work together and support one another. One of the association’s members asked whether one of the locations of their event was handicap accessible, a question that should always be asked. I was shocked, though, that instead of a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ response, one of the association’s members made a comment to the effect that handicapped people would not attend the tour, anyhow. He thought it was funny, but I was really turned off. Fortunately, some board members corrected him because isn’t that what community is? Holding each other accountable for our actions and words?
I had a better experience though on Thursday, when I visited some of the local businesses that I was trying to recruit as sponsors for the fundraising event. I took a quick trip to Parsons Ave (which is a 3 minute drive from Central Community House) to meet personally with them. I visited 39Below Frozen Yogurt and met the owner Carolyn about preparing mini-sundae samples as well as coupons for the event. Then, I walked down to Corner Stone Craft Beer and Wine to discuss with Theresa about donating a growler gift set to the fundraiser’s raffle. I definitely enjoyed meeting with them in person rather than the constant email and phone call communication, especially when their establishments are a 3 minute drive from Central Community House! In my past event planning experiences, i rarely get to meet personally with the people behind the businesses I am collaborating with. So, meeting Carolyn and Theresa was refreshing and reminded me that business transactions don’t have to be absent of human connection and community.