Community or Neighborhood Building programs help neighborhoods regain a sense of pride in their community by helping them come together to make and sustain changes that support its residents and reduce violence and drug use. It is never about "doing to" the neighborhood, but rather helping the neighborhood "do for themselves".
The goal of the program is to engage and empower residents within designated neighborhoods – currently Newcom Plain and Burkhardt-Springfield - to take ownership for reducing crime and increasing support within their community. Residents engaged in the neighborhood development process participate in identifying needs and creating goals specific to their community rather than relying on outside entities to tell them what needs to be done within their neighborhood. Residents also be supported in and learn how to plan and implement goals to create safer and more engaged communities for individuals and families.
Neighborhood development is not a new concept, with years of history working with neighborhoods plagued by violent crime, open-air drug dealing, family violence, alcohol and drug abuse, abandoned houses, vacant buildings and weed-grown yards. Eight years ago the City of Dayton executed a Weed and Seed drug interdiction grant in local neighborhoods with Family Services and other program partners. Family Services established a presence within the neighborhoods, with a satellite office in the Sunrise Center from which to provide services, support and advocacy.
Remarkable things happened and neighborhoods were transformed. The "Lunch and Learn" program was implemented in collaboration with Ginghamsburg Church to support reading enrichment and provide healthy recreational activities for neighborhood youth. "Appalachian Heritage" linked youth with seniors living in Huffman Place; building inter-generational communication and increasing youth pride in Appalachian culture and heritage.
The "Circles of Understanding" program - facilitated with Dayton Mediation Center – builds relationships between Appalachian, Russian and Hispanic residents; diminishing conflict, increasing cultural understanding and reducing risk of violence among neighbors. Five Rivers Metro Parks was instrumental in creating gardening partnership with residents that supported neighborhood beautification and provided residents with fresh vegetables. And bi-monthly alley clean-up, in collaboration with Dayton Police and City Trash Services, eliminates trash scavenging that reduces alley access, promotes rodent/animal foraging and creates garbage throughout the neighborhood.
Neighborhood Development is about residents identifying their issues, creating plans and making changes for safe and unified neighborhoods.