Neighborhood Collaboration

You know you are preparing to do great things when you go to a meeting and the presenters open with Theodore Roosevelt’s famous “Man in the Arena” quotation.

So began the first meeting of the Neighborhood Networking and Resource Collaboration capture team, held at Christ Centered Community Church in the city’s Kernville neighborhood on Thursday, March 10.

This capture team is being led by one of the project groups coming out of this year’s Greater Johnstown/Cambria County Chamber of Commerce’s John B. Gunter Community Leadership Initiative.

“We saw collaboration as a topic that kept coming up,” said team member Marc McCall, a sales executive at Highmark. “What better way to get quick action that to help the doers – these grassroots neighborhood groups that are already in motion – share ideas and work together? These groups are the engine that will make Vision 2025 successful.”

Over 40 people were in attendance, representing established groups in many city neighborhoods – including the West End, Roxbury, Kernville, Moxham, Hornerstown, Prospect, and Coopersdale – and some as members of organizations ready to help them do work, like the Johnstown Garden Club, Greater Johnstown High School’s Interact Club, and the Hiram G. Andrews Center.

Attendees were asked to share what work their groups had already done, what plans they had for the future, and the challenges they faced. Decreasing crime, remediating blight, providing safe places for children to play, and beautifying vacant lots were concerns for every group – and most were already working on projects to address these issues.

When it came to discussing challenges, surprisingly, most groups said that raising funds to accomplish their projects wasn’t their biggest hurdle to jump – instead, it was finding people to do the work beyond the groups’ committed core members.

But solutions were shared as well. “Within our school district, we have an army of workers,” said Devin Carosi, a teacher at GJSD and Interact Club advisor. “We can be the resource, however many students are needed. We just need a wish list.”

Likewise, the representatives from the Building Maintenance Program at the Hiram G. Andrews Center said that their students were also available to volunteer services, especially on landscaping and handyman projects.

Marlene Singer, a representative for Lift Johnstown, shared details about the upcoming Project Party, an annual event that works to connect community organizations with local volunteers. This year, the event also features workshop sessions for non-profits, including topics like capacity building, grant writing, and tax issues.

After the open discussion session, the Gunter group facilitators shared that they were delighted with the response and passion of the attendees and promised to not only hold more meetings of this type, but also create a Facebook group where people could continue the discussion and collaboration.

“This is exactly what we hoped holding this event would accomplish,” said McCall. “Now we can move forward together, bigger and stronger.”

If you would like to connect with this capture team, submit your information and put “Neighborhood Networking” in the comment box. And to stay up-to-date with the latest Vision 2025 happenings, don’t forget to like us on Facebook.