|HUD Neighborhood Networks Coordinator Profile: Brenda Gooch, Kansas City, Kansas, Multifamily Hub|
Kansas City, KS—Brenda Gooch was born, raised, educated, and began her professional career in the “Show-Me State” of Missouri. After attending Northeast Missouri State College and working in a variety of administrative and clerical positions, Gooch decided she was ready for something a little more challenging. So, in 1987, she moved to the neighboring state of Kansas to become a program assistant in the Office of Single Family Housing at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD’s) Kansas City Regional Office. When the Office of Single Family Housing was dissolved in 1998, Gooch accepted a position with the Office of Multifamily Housing where one of her responsibilities was to serve as a HUD Neighborhood Networks Coordinator for the then three-year-old Initiative.
“When I learned about Neighborhood Networks centers, I was excited to be a part of the Initiative because they are designed to not only introduce technology, but also to provide educational and economic opportunities for residents in HUD-assisted properties and the surrounding communities,” explained Gooch. “Neighborhood Networks centers help establish support systems and build linkages to local communities.”
Brenda Gooch has been the HUD Neighborhood Networks Coordinator for the Kansas City, Kansas, Multifamily Hub since 1998.
For the past 11 years, Gooch has served as a HUD Neighborhood Networks Coordinator, in addition to her role as senior project manager. She believes that the Initiative is stronger than ever, and describes Neighborhood Networks as an asset to owners, agents, residents, communities, and HUD.
Building Bonds, Strengthening Communities
Gooch credits the 47 Missouri and 17 Kansas centers she oversees with helping residents of all ages take pride in themselves and their communities. “Centers provide a wealth of information that enhances residents’ lives and the community,” said Gooch. “In today’s workforce, computers are used for just about everything, and it is so important for people looking for jobs or career advancement to become comfortable with technology. At their local Neighborhood Networks center, residents can launch new careers, obtain lifelong skills, and become more self-sufficient. Neighborhood Networks is at the forefront of delivering technology access to America’s communities.”
Gooch also believes that connecting with the community and establishing partnerships are key to the life of a center. “During special events, such as community days, back-to-school events, and health and safety fairs, residents, managers, owners, stakeholders, and community officials work together to build and strengthen bonds,” said Gooch. “These events contribute to stronger families and communities that are filled with hope for tomorrow. The positive results that occur at the local Neighborhood Networks centers are felt throughout the entire community.”
Testimonies of Success
Gooch enjoys visiting centers and witnessing how residents are accomplishing their goals. Two memorable examples that solidified
Gooch’s commitment to Neighborhood Networks include:
In the summer of 2000, the Friendship Village Neighborhood Networks Center in Kansas City, Missouri, created a 10-bed community garden in conjunction with South Kansas City Urban 4-H, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Food Circle’s Networking Program, and Kansas City Community Gardens. In addition to growing an abundant crop of vegetables, the children who frequent the center also created a salsa recipe using only the fresh ingredients from their community garden. “The children made a presentation at the National 4-H Achievement Day celebration where they received eight first place and two second place ribbons for their efforts,” reported Gooch. “They then decided they wanted to bottle and sell their product. They created a name, designed the label, and found a way to finance their start-up cost and initial inventory. In December 2000, Sassy Salsa from the Village was born and still exists today. These children gave a presentation at our office, and it was one of the proudest and happiest moments for me as a Coordinator to hear testimonies by the children and see the pride on their faces as they explained their project.”
In 2009, the Chelsea Plaza Homes-E.A. Freeman Leadership Institute in Kansas City, Kansas, hosted two successful community day celebrations in which approximately 500 youth and adults participated. The center’s goals for the events were to make community partners and residents aware of the center’s presence; bring five neighborhoods together as one united community to provide and improve the quality of life for the northeast section of Kansas City, Kansas; celebrate ethnic, generational, and social diversity of the five neighborhoods; and honor three community leaders for years of service and commitment to the community. “This event was a phenomenal success with the support of more than 35 sponsors, partners, and donors,” explained Gooch. “It was so rewarding because it proves that Neighborhood Networks is a direct reflection of the community it serves.”
Gooch believes that the Initiative will continue to be an asset for residents to learn skills that enable them to utilize technology and to provide positive growth, enrichment, and success for people in HUD properties nationwide. “The Initiative and centers receive a great deal of support from residents, communities, and partners,” said Gooch. “The HUD Neighborhood Networks Coordinators I have spoken with are excited about their role in the Initiative, and they work hard to make their centers successful.”
For more information about Neighborhood Networks centers in Missouri and Kansas, contact:
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
Kansas City Multifamily Hub
400 State Avenue, Room 300
Kansas City, KS 66101-2406
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Department of Housing and Urban
451 7th Street S.W.,
Washington, DC 20410
708-1112 TTY: (202)