The Middle Main Initiative is committed to developing and empowering residents to work with us to create a strong, vibrant, and creative community. We understand that residents know what is best for their community, and that neighborhood revitalization can only be carried out responsibly with their participation. Over the past 6 years, the Middle Main Initiative has engaged with many dedicated community leaders. Last week we began a new tradition of recognizing outstanding leadership among residents with the 2015 Middle Main Resident Leadership Award.
We are very thrilled to announce the 2015 Middle Main Resident Leadership Award goes to Omar Garibay!
Omar is a thoughtful, caring, and humble community leader who has made great strides to bring together the many diverse cultures of the Middle Main Poughkeepsie community. Omar is one of many Middle Main residents who has moved from Latin America to seek a new life in the United States. Though not a native of this community, Omar has embraced Poughkeepsie with open arms, giving generously of his time and talents to lead initiatives that make it even stronger. He volunteers to keep the streets clean, regularly attends community meetings, and helped to plan last year’s week-long Day of the Dead Celebration. Omar was also one of 15 graduates of the first Middle Main Leadership Training Program conducted last year.
Over the past year, Omar has transitioned from being a regular participant, to becoming an active leader in the community. The main focus of his efforts has been to coordinate the bi-weekly Intercambio or Language Exchanges. Taking place the 1st and 3rd Thursdays of the month, these gatherings bring people together to practice their English and Spanish in a casual setting. Omar selects local restaurants as meeting locations, helping to support these businesses and bring in new patrons. He prepares conversation topics, provides notebooks for people to record the new words and phrases they learn, and uses social media to promote the events and to keep the conversations going between them.
The Language Exchanges have engaged dozens of residents, of all backgrounds, and have been a very successful tool for connecting people of different cultures. They have also boosted the local economy by attracting new customers to different restaurants along Main Street. This program is a great example of how resident leaders are expanding the work of the Middle Main Initiative, engaging new community members, and building a tighter fabric of community.
Omar Garibay, right