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Linking Up in Wheaton

Posted by meganmoriarty on December 14, 2009

Maria, Elyssa, Walter, Lucy, Dorothy, Martha and Judis linking up

This past Wednesday night over 40 neighbors and community partners came together at the Wheaton Library for the first Network Orientation. We have been having these types of events in Silver Spring for six months, but this was the first time we had one in Wheaton and we had no idea what to expect…

In the end, we decided to keep it very simple. Our two goals for the night were: (1) for neighbors to get to know each other and (2) for them to begin to share information and find simple ways to support each other.

To start, we did the “link up” activity — this gave everyone an opportunity to share some personal things about themselves (where they were from, how many kids they have, groups they are a part of, favorite hobbies…) and literally connect with others (by linking arms). By the end, we had formed a large circle of connected neighbors that all had one thing in common with the person standing next to them.

Walkiria & Yamileth sharing their story of connecting

Then, to illustrate the power of a community network, we had Neighbor Corps participants share some of the connections they have already made (see Ira’s earlier post for more details about this).

Finally, with the remaining time, Ira led the group through an exercise we call “Support Action”. This is a chance for participants to ask for support, make an announcement or request input on a specific topic. In just 30 minutes, some amazing connections were made!

For example, Jimmy offered to put Scott in touch with a bookkeeper; I found out Mary is looking for babysitting opportunities and she can help us out in the future; Alpha knew that IHOP was hiring and was able to share that information with Jacobo who is looking for a job; a number of residents are following up with Elyssa about English classes that the Gilchrist Center offers…and those are just a few of the examples!

Roxanne and Miguel describing their collaboration

By the end of the meeting everyone had made at least one valuable connection and the librarians had to kick us out of the building at 9pm — people kept talking and talking.

Stay tuned for more about our plans to do similar network building on Tuesday nights at Catholic Charities!


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