2015 Resident Leadership Program
by Chandel Gibbs, Resident Engagement AmeriCorps VISTA Member &
Daniella Beltran, Community Building Specialist
On Tuesday, April 21, the Community Building & Organizing team hosted the third workshop of our 2015 Resident Leadership Program. The theme of the workshop was “Staying Strong through Recruitment and Retention.” This workshop was facilitated by Stacy Spell, president of the West River Neighborhood Services Corporation and retired New Haven police detective. Mr. Spell has done a lot work for his community over the years by bringing services to it, creating strategies that deal with food security, and striving for increased public safety.
Mr. Spell shared his expertise in the areas of recruitment and development, as well as the challenges that many organizations and groups encounter in building and maintaining a team. His overall message was very straightforward: “keep it simple, keep it real.” He delivered a powerful message about speaking from your heart and modeling behavior that you want to see in other community members. Mr. Spell emphasized that more supporters will be captivated by a cause if you model the behavior you want others to use. Through a variety of group activities, every participant was able to interact and learn how to be concise and effective in speaking about their causes. Being passionate was another important aspect of Spell’s lesson. We learned how to be captivating when speaking about the changes we want to see in our communities, and we learned to develop our thought processes to clearly convey what we want done and how to do it.
By the end of the class, Mr. Spell opened up the class for Q&A that quickly turned into an open discussion of challenges and opportunities faced by the class participants. A few of the participants had worked with Mr. Spell in different community events, and they shared their experiences with us. One contributor, Teresa Hines, who is co-chair of Newhallville’s Community Resilience Team and an active participant in all of our RLP classes, surprised us all when she shared that she was once a quiet individual who didn’t know how to voice her concerns before meeting Mr. Spell, who helped her to “get off of the wall and join the party.” Now she is one of Newhallville’s respected community leaders and far from that quiet resident who once stayed on the perimeter of community initiatives. It was incredible for participants to learn that Teresa had applied Mr. Spell’s lessons to her projects so successfully. It also made everyone more excited to go out and apply their new skills in their communities!