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Change Comes from Within: Lessons in Community Development

cpdc-serviceworks-team-marisa-strothenkeBy: Marisa Strothenke, CPDC ServiceWorks

While the first cohort of ServiceWorks has come to a close, planning for the rest of the year has just begun. The ServiceWorks Team has been hard at work sketching calendars, setting up meetings, researching partnerships, and getting excited for the upcoming cycle.

Taking time to reflect on all aspects of the first round of ServiceWorks allowed us to break down barriers we faced and think up ways to fix them. We talked about the number of young adults we were able to engage through our program and saw the many challenges that came with it.

We confirmed that relationship building is key.

You can’t jump into a new community and expect to receive immediate support. It’s going to take time to build that relationship because these communities are home to so many people. Imagine if someone walked into your home and tried to sell you on their ideas. You too would be caught off guard.

I view this reaction as a positive thing. If people are cautious about letting strangers in, it means they respect and value their community, and the people in it.

After strong reflections, the ServiceWorks Team has decided to take a different approach for this next cycle and be more intentional about our community development. Our goal is to create a relationship with the community before we try to involve them in our program.

It’s so important to be viewed as part of the community you are working in.

Change has to come from within the community, not be forced upon it from the outside.

Our next cycle of ServiceWorks is set to start up in the beginning months of the New Year and we will focus on engaging members in and around the Mayfair Mansions community (3744 1/2 Hayes Street, NE Washington, DC 20019).

Marisa Strothenke, born and raised in Wauwatosa, WI, is optimistic, nature-loving, and a recent graduate of St. Norbert College with a BA in Psychology. On campus, Marisa held leadership roles in many student organizations, coordinated campus events, planned service opportunities for students, led and participated in various alternative break trips, and worked as a Project and Marketing Coordinator in her college’s Community Service and Learning office. She is excited to be serving with CPDC as an AmeriCorps VISTA member and aims to gain skills and confidence to take the next step in her professional career. Marisa hopes to work in the non-profit field and have the opportunity to continue to create positive change within her community.


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