Neighborhood Opportunity Network

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Neighbor Circle in Woodside Park

Posted by Neighborhood Opportunity Network on March 11, 2009

March 5th was the second gathering of a Neighbor Circle hosted by Mary Murphy in the Woodside Park neighborhood of Silver Spring. Mary has been an active member of the IMPACT Network since its birth over ten years ago. When she heard about the Neighbors Campaign and IMPACT’s need to raise funds to support the campaign, she decided to embark on a new experiment. She saw the Neighbor Circle concept as a tool for gathering a group of neighborhood moms who used to connect and support each other when their children were younger. As the kids transitioned into teenagers, the mothers saw each other less frequently and, as a result, did not lean on each other for helping out with various needs, like carpooling and understanding the latest school developments etc. She was also intrigued by IMPACT’s work to create similar circles of support in some of the large apartment complexes in Silver Spring – neighborhoods which are even more diverse and complex than Mary’s neighborhood of larger, single-family homes. She wanted to help out, within the constraints of her busy life as a working mother and school teacher.

Over a delicious dinner of lasagna, salad, bread and wine, Mary and IMPACT’s Executive Director, Frankie Blackburn, introduced this circle of eight women to Serena Locust, a community leader in the Northwest Park Apartment complex and a more recent member of the IMPACT Network. Earlier in the day, Frankie videotaped her conversation with Serena and took pictures of Northwest Park, a complex of 700+ units located in an isolated pocket off of New Hampshire Blvd, only two miles from Mary’s neighborhood.

The question before all of us involved in this campaign: How can we best connect these two neighborhoods – during this time of great, mutual need – in a way that garners resources and support but also facilitates new understanding and relationships? At the conclusion of the session, the group decided to ask Serena if they can visit the YMCA-sponsored after-school program that she runs in an apartment unit and – perhaps over a old fashioned “cover-dish dinner” – discuss ways to build more of a connection between their two neighborhoods.

For the record, Mary and her friends have written over $1,200 in checks to support IMPACT’s leadership role in the Neighbors Campaign.

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