Meet the 2019-20
Neighbors Together Team
Electria Barnes has been living in the Riverside-Austell community for over 20 years. She loves that so many people in her neighborhood are familiar with the ‘We Thrive in Riverside’ organization and respects all that they do to make a change in their community. She wants to see more housing opportunities for low-income families and single parents in her neighborhood. Electria is a Community Advocate and serves as a Neighborhood Captain with ‘We Thrive in Riverside’. She has assisted in the planning of community events, shared helpful resources, and promoted what they do to help the community. Electria hopes to gain more leadership skills and strategies that will be beneficial to the ‘We Thrive in Riverside’ organization and its members. In her spare time, she enjoys taking pictures of nature that represent peace and special life moments.
Peggy Crawford has been a resident of the Oakwood Trails subdivision in Clayton County for 12 years. She loves how her community comes together to aide their neighbors. She would like to see more participation and input from her neighbors. Peggy is a counselor at middle and high schools, and is also the Founder and CEO of Walking in Wisdom Ministries. She is heavily involved in her community and has held various roles, such as, a volunteer for the Annual Back to School Drive, fundraiser, and assistant in coordinating meetings with agencies geared towards aiding those in need. She hopes to learn how to better serve her community. In her spare time, Peggy likes to curl up in bed with a good book.
Priscilla Davenport has lived in South DeKalb for over forty years. She is the Co-Chair of McNair DeKalb Sustainable Neighborhood Initiative, Co-Chair of Friends of N. H. Scott Park, Founder of Pink Sisters Surviving, INC, Founder of Pro Scholar Students, INC, Member of South DeKalb Improvement Association, the organizer of N. H. Scott Park Community Day, Heart of South DeKalb Festival Committee member, and recipient of DeKalb County Torchbearer Award October 2018. She loves that her community offers a variety of neighborly community involvement opportunities. She would like to see her neighborhood advance to an updated redeveloped housing plan. In CLI, she hopes that she will gain knowledge of how to lead effectively in her community. In her spare time, she loves to line dance and volunteer in her community
Vernon Gladney has lived in the Green Forrest Community for over 40 years. What he loves most about his neighborhood are the people and how they care for each other. He would like to see homeowners and renters become more involved and participate in local meetings. Vernon is retired and heavily involved within his community as a leader and volunteer. He was the past President of the Green Forrest Civic Association for five years and is currently their Treasurer, as well as provides grant assistance for various organizations. Vernon hopes to gain more knowledge about housing repair and community safety through his CLI experience. In his spare time he enjoys travelling and trying to figure out different investment strategies in the stock market.
Celeste Huling has been a resident of South Fulton specifically Fairburn for 10 years. She values her neighborhood and the sense of family it provides. She would love to see more amenities in her neighborhood like a park or walking path. Celeste is excited about the CLI experience and the new ideas to help create a more affordable work, live, and play neighborhood. Celeste serves as the treasurer of the South Fulton Human Services Coalition. She volunteers annually with the Cascade United Methodist Angel Tree. Celeste works as the Housing Services Manager at Zion Hill Community Development Corporation located in East Point which provides housing resources for homeless families in the South Fulton area. In her spare time she enjoys working out, reading and spending time with her family.
Aaron Johnson has been a resident of the Main Street Community in Stone Mountain GA for over 25 years. He loves his neighborhood’s rich history and the wellknown artists and leaders that have grown up there. He wants more young people to be engaged in community affairs and hopes to grow his community’s next generation of leaders. Aaron plans to learn how to better engage and lead his community action group and get more people involved through his CLI experience. Aaron works as the Career and Employment Specialist for the Urban League of Greater Atlanta’s Urban Youth Empowerment Program in DeKalb County. In his spare time he loves to read self-help books and go hiking.
LaKeta Whittaker has been a Pittsburgh neighborhood resident for over 10 years and also works to provide Pittsburgh families with resources to assist them with illegal evictions, housing repair and conditions, as well as other needed resources as a Community Advocate for the Atlanta Volunteer Lawyers Foundation. She loves the rich history of her community, told to her through the stories of community elders and longtime residents. She would like to see younger residents become engaged in community discussions and meetings, as well as see change in the gentrification that’s happening at a very fast pace. Laketa hopes to learn information that would help her community with the balance of homeowners and renters through her CLI experience. In her spare time, she enjoys travelling, dancing, doing DIY household tasks, and spending time making memories with her children, family and friends.
Families thrive in safe and healthy neighborhoods. But communities rarely achieve such desired conditions without informed and engaged residents. In the aftermath of the foreclosure crisis, many South Metro Atlanta neighborhoods continue to struggle with high levels of negative equity, an imbalance of rental and homeownership housing, and a host of issues related to these conditions.
In these impacted neighborhoods, residents are coming together in Neighborhood Watch meetings, homeowners’ associations, and small groups of concerned citizens to make their neighborhoods whole again. To support residents engaged in the work of neighborhood stabilization, ANDP created Neighbors Together.
First launched at the annual NeighborWorks Week in 2015, Neighbors Together was designed to be a training and leadership development event with the goal of arming residents with the information and tools needed to strengthen communities from the inside out. The event was well-received by neighborhood leaders and ANDP was asked to continue to offer the free training event.
Now in its fifth year, Neighbors Together convenes both formal and informal neighborhood leaders for an annual half-day of training with an emphasis on neighborhood stabilization efforts. Training topics include:
Neighborhood Branding and Marketing,
Property Law & Code Enforcement,
Strengthening Relationships with Law Enforcement,
Connecting School and Community,
Neighborhood Advocacy with Elected Officials, and
Foreclosure Mitigation Programs.
Neighbors Together is executed in three distinct phases:
Community Leadership Institute - Neighborhood residents and leaders who demonstrate an uncommon commitment to their communities are selected on an annual basis for a six-person team to attend NeighborWorks® America’s Community Leadership Institute (CLI). As described by NeighborWorks America, “CLI is an invitation-only, three-day training event that aims to strengthen the voices and skills of community, resident and volunteer leaders. Participants from around the country attend in small teams from communities served by NeighborWorks Network organizations and their partners. They attend a full range of courses and each participating team creates an action plan for making a positive change in their community.”
Dating back to its creation in 2008, CLI events have been held in New Orleans, LA; San Jose and Sacramento CA; Milwaukee, WI; Kansas City, MO; Orlando, FL; Cincinnati, OH; and Louisville, KY.
ANDP’s 2019 Neighbors Together Team, representing six South Metro communities, will participate in this year’s CLI in Chicago, IL.
Local Solutions - After attending the national CLI event, Neighbors Together Team members meet with ANDP staff for guidance as they undertake the necessary research to identify their specific neighborhood issues and underlying causes. Over the next several months, the team and ANDP staff collaborate to create a half-day training event designed to discuss the specific concerns identified. Simultaneously, team members begin developing a plan of action and identifying community stakeholders to engage. The annual training event also serves as a sounding board and an opportunity for further development of team member plans.
Creating Change - After participating in Neighbors Together for nearly a year, team members move forward with the information and resources they’ve gained in the process to address their neighborhood concerns. Most team members return to attend the annual training events to further their understanding of issues and skill development.
NEIGHBORS TOGETHER IMPACT
30 metro residents have been selected to attend NeighborWorks America’s National Community Leadership Institute, and subsequently joined the Neighbors Together Team.
Team members planned and executed five annual Neighbors Together training events, engaging more than 500 active, committed neighborhood leaders.
Several Team members have taken their engagement to the next level by running for elected office or participating in additional leadership training programs.
Several program participants have successfully learned to apply for and receive funding to support their neighborhood-based programs and initiatives.
For questions about the Neighbors Together program, please contact
Senior Director for Policy
& Community Engagement
About NeighborWorks America
For more than 35 years, NeighborWorks America, a national, nonpartisan nonprofit, has created opportunities for people to improve their lives and strengthen their communities by providing access to homeownership and to safe and affordable rental housing. In the last five years, NeighborWorks organizations have generated more than $27.2 billion in reinvestment in these communities. NeighborWorks America is the nation’s leading trainer of community development and affordable housing professionals. More online at www.neighborworks.org.