Last month I had the pleasure of accompanying a team of residents to the national Community Leadership Institute in Louisville, Kentucky.  This was a 3-day gathering of community leaders from across the country, organized by one of our biggest supporters and funders, NeighborWorks America.  At the conference, participants attended a variety of seminars and workshops to sharpen their leadership skills, and share about the important work they do with their peers.  

A highlight was the Dorothy Richardson Resident Leadership Award Ceremony, which recognized seven outstanding leaders for the work that they do.  It was inspiring to hear their stories, and see the impact that each of them had made in their communities.  Maria Skoczylas is 88 years old, and still active in advocating for homeless individuals in her California community!

                                     

On the last day of the conference, our team gathered together to start our Action Plan.  We were asked to identify what change we wanted to see in our own community, what activities would help bring about that change, and determine how we would measure our success.  After brainstorming many ideas, we finally landed on creating a multi-pronged beautification and anti-litter campaign.  We even came up with a name: POKeep it Clean.  Strategies will include business engagement, resident engagement, working with elected officials and government agencies like the DPW, holding regular neighborhood clean-ups, and launching a public awareness campaign to generate pride and highlight these collective efforts.

We created a timeline for action, including designing a survey for Main St. businesses, researching street sweeping ordinances from other cities, and scheduling a time to present our ideas to the City of Poughkeepsie Common Council.  Every team member committed to a role in the process.  The group decided to meet monthly to check our progress and move this idea forward.  

We will also be applying for a $2,000 grant to NeighborWorks America to fund some of this project in the next year (such as buying brooms and dust pans for participating businesses, printing outreach flyers and window decals, or even purchasing more garbage cans for Main St.).  

Overall it was a great experience to travel to this conference and I came back to Poughkeepsie refreshed and inspired by all that I learned in Louisville.  Thanks to NeighborWorks America for providing this important resource to community organizers and professionals!

If you want to be involved in POKeep it Clean, contact Lindsay at 845-454-5176 x 118 or lduvall@hudsonriverhousing.org

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