Meet the 2018-19
Neighbors Together Team

Victoria Anglin has lived in unincorporated South DeKalb County for 25 years.  For the past six years, she has been a resident of the Belvedere Park neighborhood.  Victoria serves as Secretary for the Towers Action Group, which is a part of the DeKalb Sustainable Neighborhoods Initiative.  She volunteers for the local community garden and she helps support the mission of Partners in Action for Healthy Living (PAHL).  Victoria loves the wide diversity represented in her neighborhood.  She would like to see more residents become active and engaged contributors to the community.  Victoria is passionate about good health.  She works in aquatic physical therapy.  In her spare time, she enjoys working out and gardening.

Gwendolyn Davis has called the Old National Corridor of South Fulton County her home for more than 30 years. She loves that her community has plentiful trees and greenspace but is also convenient to the airport and downtown Atlanta.  Since 2013, Gwendolyn has volunteered with United Way’s College Park Opportunity Zone to improve conditions for area residents.  Recently, she was recruited to work with the South Fulton Human Services Coalition (SFHSC). Working with SFHSC partner agencies, Gwendolyn intends to provide support services for the Corridor’s homeless and unemployed.  She would like to see restaurants and business services replace the numerous fast-food and check-cashing businesses along that thoroughfare.  After a long career in journalism, communications consulting and college-teaching, Gwendolyn is getting closer to full retirement.  She is an avid reader and enjoys the performing arts.

 

Sonia Delbridge is a 15-year resident of the Stage Coach subdivision, a neighborhood of 100 homes in the Ellenwood community of Clayton County.  Over the years, Sonia has developed life-long friendships with neighbors who have become extended family.   Sonia joined a grassroots community organization where she serves on the executive committee.  Twice a year, Sonia visits all 100 homes in the community to collect money to support the upkeep and beautification of the neighborhood entrance.  Sonia hopes to return from the CLI with strategies for energizing her community.  She would love to see greater participation in neighborhood meetings and events.   Sonia works as a trainer at Emory University.  In her spare time, she enjoys being active in her church and community, doing yard work, and putting together jigsaw puzzles.

 

Ellen Peek has lived in the Kelley Lake neighborhood of South DeKalb for 24 years.  She values the close-knit, caring nature of her community.  Ellen serves as one of the chairs of the McNair cluster for the Dekalb Sustainable Neighborhoods Initiative. She also serves on the Community Engagement Committee at Kelley Lake Elementary. Ellen started a non-profit called Pro Scholar Students Inc. to provide scholarships to deserving students.  Ellen would like to see improvements to the housing conditions in her neighborhood.  Some homes are blighted and in code violation.   Ellen is a para-professional in Special Education for the DeKalb County School system.  In her spare time, she plays kickball, serves as a Girl Scout Troup leader and works with her nonprofit.

 

Archie Polk has been a resident of the East Point community for 12 years.  He describes East Point as a “melting pot” and he loves the rich diversity of the residents.   As a semi-retired, self-employed professional, Archie is using his time to give back to the community.  He is particularly interested in how houses of worship, neighborhood associations and civic groups can engage to improve the quality of life in East Point.  He would like to improve the sidewalk and pedestrian infrastructure of local neighborhoods, and he has a passion for providing cultural enrichment opportunities for youth.   In his spare time, Archie enjoys walking, biking, watching documentaries and pursuing historical research.

 

Nadira Rahman - A native of Atlanta, Nadira has called the City’s West End neighborhood her home for more than 15 years.  She loves living within walking distance of several parks.  As a yoga instructor and avid runner, Nadira is passionate about health and wellness and addressing existing health disparities in the community.  In fact, she teaches yoga classes to her West End neighbors.   She would love to see improved access to healthy food options in the neighborhood.    Nadira is a 2018 graduate of the Transformation Academy, an initiative of the Transformation Alliance designed to increase the capacity of community residents to participate in decisions about planning and the real estate developments impacting their neighborhoods.  She hopes that she can bring her experiences from the CLI to life in the West End community.

 

Robbin West has lived in the Riverside Drive community of Austell for 20 years.  Robbin values the diversity and old-fashioned “hometown” feel of her neighborhood.  She has served as a volunteer at the local high school, and she is a community ambassador in the “We Thrive in Riverside” tenant association.   Robbin is eager to see more quality, affordable housing and improved job opportunities in her neighborhood.   She hopes that the CLI experience will help her become an even better “servant to the community.”  Robbin works as a defense travel administrator for the Navy Recruiting District of Atlanta.  When she’s not working or volunteering, Robbin enjoys dance, travel and movies.

Neighbors Together

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:

  • Public Safety,

  • 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 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 2018 Neighbors Together Team, representing six South Metro communities, will participate in this year’s CLI in Houston, TX.

 

Local Solutions - After attending the national CLI event, Neighbors Together Team members meet with ANDP staff for guidance as they undertake 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

 

  • 25 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 four annual Neighbors Together training events, engaging more than 400 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

Susan Adams

Senior Director for Policy
& Community Engagement

sadams@andpi.org

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

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