"Hi this is Jerry from . . . the apartments, you mentioned that you could bring the Bus Boutique to our apartment complex if we get it organized . . . is that still true?”
I was pleasantly surprised. I met Jerry in his neighborhood several weeks previously during an event that our local Christian Radio station organized. The station wanted to bless an under-resourced community and picked an apartment complex in partnership with several churches and Christian non-profits. More than 50 Thanksgiving baskets had been distributed by a church. Then on Thanksgiving morning the groups came with a bounce house for the kids and goodies for the adults. I was invited to join--but I did not bring anything, I just came to have conversations with the community members.
One of the principles of Asset Based Community Development is not to do things for others that they can do for themselves. We want to empower neighborhoods; we want them to be the decision makers and the owners of their projects. So I spent most of my time just listening and hanging out. It is amazing what you can find out! I gave them our information to let them know about the winter clothing on the Bus Boutique, and I told them that if they wanted the bus to come, they needed to organize it--and so they did!
When we drove the Bus Boutique up to the apartment complex the whole group was out, from young to old, having great conversations. They unpacked the bus, set things up, brought out the supplies that were needed and even had the things that we had forgotten.
They helped each other, they helped the handicapped people who could not get on the bus and they found clothing for each other. It was such a delight to see. In times when everyone is looking out for number one, they assembled a deep community spirit. We had great conversations, learned from each other and decided to work together on other things.
When the time came to a close, they all helped put things away, cleaned up the area, and thanked me before they helped me maneuver the bus out of the complex.
I am sure Jerry and I will have more conversations, and under his natural leadership. this "low income" apartment complex will continue as a "rich community" on its own!