In recognizing that many people who struggle with issues of poverty often suffer in their ability to believe that they matter, to meet their basic needs, to feel fulfilled in their lives and relationships, to feel connected to the community, and to feel empowered, the concept of designing a community center in the Allied neighborhood that would work toward meeting these core needs is offered. Follows is a description of such.
A neighborhood based building that houses different service and health promotion groups and agencies, such as churches, the Neighborhood Assoc., Time Bank, JFF service providers, Urban League's employment partnership, MAP, Allied Area Partnership Toward Recovery, a food pantry, and a health office. It would be a collaborative venture with the purpose of personal and community development targeted to people living in poverty.
It would legally be set up under the Wellness Center's 501 (c ) 3 status, and the Allied Partner Board would have formal oversight with each participating entity having a representative on the Board. It would be a cooperative of sorts, that would have a staff executive-facilitator whose prime responsibilities would be facilitating communication and program coordination between the various entities, and grant writing.
Church groups would be churches who have a strong commitment to serve the neighborhood and a collaborative spirit. They might be Hispanic, and African-American focused churches. They would have use of community gathering space and meeting/classroom space. The Neighborhood Association could have office space that they share with Time Bank and use of community gathering spaces for meetings, and community meals. There would be space for Time Bank's store and meeting room use. JFF service providers, MAP and the Urban League employment services would have dedicated office space that they rent. A health office would be a minimally medically equipped space available for a Medic type clinic staffed by volunteer doctors or medical residents who come for a certain period of time on a specific day, and available for the public health nurse to meet with clients during food pantry. Allied Area Partnership Toward Recovery would use the health office and meeting rooms for counseling and groups. The food pantry would be run mutually by the Allied Partners and the Neighborhood Association. The Center would have some basic exercise equipment/mats available in one of the community room spaces. There would be room dedicated to child friendly care. All services and programs would have a core value that guides activities to address the above mentioned core needs.
In order to access the services of the service providers (JFF providers, Medic Clinic, Urban League's job services, and the food pantry) people would have to be a co-op member. To become a co-op member, you must participate in one or more health promotion/personal/community development activity. For example when you attend an educational session offered by UW Extension nutritionist, or MAP class, or a church service, or a Neighborhood Association meeting, or a health promotion program offering, or become a Time Bank member- you receive a co-op membership card. This equates an expectation that the cost of assistance is participation in your individual and the community's wellbeing. This would mean that anyone in Madison could participate and it would not be limited to the Allied neighborhood residents, but would tend to be self limiting as the location of the development programs is prime for Allied residents. This shifts the center of the neighborhood activities from service to development.
MAP would be the "anchor" for individual development classes, and the Allied Dunns Marsh Neighborhood Association would be the "anchor" for community development activities. Beyond these, health promotion classes could be offered by UW School of Medicine and Public Health, or any health focused organization, led by Time Bank volunteers, offered by UW Extension nutritionist, and other groups like Grass Roots Leadership College etc.. The churches could offer a wide variety of spiritual, personal and community strengthening activities. These classes/programs would either be held at the Boys & Girls Club or the Allied Wellness Center Cooperative. Residents in the neighborhood who are co-op members could have access to the community room space if available.
To avoid duplicity, the Boys & Girls Club would primarily serve children as they already do and have educational programs focused on children and the family. They would be the prime site for ESL, GED, computer access, family and parenting related programs. Their gym would be used for large gatherings and physical activities.
Issues to be addressed:
In order to realize such a concept, there would need to be a committee and probably a paid person dedicated to the development of this.
Susan Corrado, RN,MSN Community Parish Nurse Allied Wellness Center 2225 Allied Dr #2 Madison, WI 53711 Tel: (608) 274-7006