Neighborhood Opportunity Network

Supporting one another in a time of crisis

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We’re losing control…and it feels great! (Part 2)

Posted by sebastianbrown on December 10, 2009

But before getting to the tougher work of assigning various logistical tasks for starting the ESOL class to group members, we started with going around in a circle reflecting on just how far we’ve come in just over a month as a group. I mean, think, it wasn’t even 5 weeks ago that we met at the Neighbors Exchange, and first came up with the idea of holding a follow-up meeting. Now, after holding 4 additional “unemployment support group” sessions, Martin (a regular in my blog postings) has found a stable job, each member has taken the ESOL placement exam and we’re closer than ever to being permitted by the YMCA Family and Children Services to host potentially 2/week ESOL classes in their Nob Hill center. These were at least the accomplishments that immediately popped into my head.

Of course, the group expressed excitement about these more tangible advances, but for them, what has been most important is the unmeasurable: the unique opportunity to just have a couple hours a week during which they can relax, catch up with neighbors, vent any immediate concerns they have and, in being part of something bigger than themselves, temporarily forget about all the struggles–both large and small–they face day after day.

But, even in appreciating all that we’ve done in such a short amount of time, the group members weren’t blinded as to the challenges that lay ahead. Immediately Juevntina expressed disappointment that so many members of the community who would genuinely benefit from being a part of the group, hadn’t been reached out to. She asked, “now that we know how much we get out of this, isn’t it our responsibility to share it with others?” The rest of the group emphatically agreed, but quickly got stuck on how to possibly go about doing this. “Isn’t it too early to invite new members before we’ve even found a permanent meeting space?” Ana and Melvis both asked. “How can we just go up and talk to strangers?”

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