|Building a Community that Extends Beyond the Property Lines|
Florence, South Carolina—Many Neighborhood Networks centers serve as the cornerstone of their housing community. It is through the onsite Neighborhood Networks center that residents have additional access to educational and career opportunities. And often, it is the Neighborhood Networks center that brings residents together to build a cohesive community.
For some Neighborhood Networks centers, creating a close-knit community does not stop at the property lines. Community-building efforts extend beyond the boundaries and involve welcoming, participating in, and contributing to the larger community. The Mount Zion A.M.E. Apartments’ Resource Center is one of those Neighborhood Networks centers that knows no limits to community building. The center’s beyond-the-boundaries community-building efforts helped ensure a spot for the center at the heart of the community.
Finding the Balance Between Work and Play
Mount Zion A.M.E. Apartments’ Resource Center offers a wide range of skill-building classes and community-building activities. Center Director Cynthia Brown understands the importance of maintaining a healthy balance between work and play, and she works hard to plan and organize classes and events that allow residents and community members to enrich their professional and personal lives.
Providing a Place to Learn and Grow
Although Brown plans classes aimed at moving adult residents toward self-sufficiency, she also organizes activities that help younger residents achieve academic success.
To boost professional development, Mount Zion A.M.E. Apartments’ Resource Center works with Poyner Adult Education Program to offer basic computer skills courses. Poyner provides additional laptop computers for the classes and student instructors from Francis Marion University 4 days a week at the center. Fifteen participants recently completed the first class, and Brown hopes to expand the course offering to allow participants to further enhance their skills.
To help younger residents succeed in the classroom, the center collaborates with Mclaurin Elementary School to offer a summer reading program for children in kindergarten through fourth grade. Every Monday, teachers from Mclaurin Elementary School bring books to the center and help the children with their reading skills. Children can check out the books and work on improving their reading skills during the summer months.
Offering a Chance to Mix and Mingle
Because life is not all work and no play, Brown also plans a variety of activities that allow residents and members of the larger community to interact and enjoy each other’s company. One event that is popular with residents and the surrounding neighborhood is the National Night Out Block Party that focuses on crime prevention, neighborhood spirit, and police-community partnerships. To ensure the event’s success, Brown calls upon the resources of all her partners to create an evening of fun with a focus on safety.
This year’s block party will be held on August 2nd, so Brown is making it part of the center’s Neighborhood Networks Week celebration. In addition to food, festivities, and fun, Brown also invited partners, such as the Poyner Adult Education Program, to set up a table and provide attendees with information about their services.
“If this year’s party turns out to be anything like last year’s party, we’ll have members of the fire department manning the grills and police officers offering safety tips and making identification cards for the kids,” said Brown. “And last year, we had a radio announcer as well as snow cones, popcorn, and cotton candy that all added to the fun.”
The center helps host other community-building events including an annual Thanksgiving dinner that is attended by more than 300 people; a Halloween party—complete with a haunted house—that provides scary entertainment for more than 200 children; and a spring Easter Egg Hunt.
“The center is really making a name for itself in the larger community,” said Brown. “Three years ago, we received a grant to build a new center. Since then, the property has changed and the center has been a major part of our success. It gives people what they need—skills, support, and a sense of community.”
For more information about Neighborhood Networks centers in South Carolina, contact:
Elaine F. Bennett
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development–Columbia Office
1835 Assembly Street, 13th Floor
Columbia, SC 29201
Phone: (803) 253-3925
For more information about Mount Zion A.M.E. Apartments’ Resource Center, contact:
Cynthia Brown, Center Director
Mount Zion A.M.E. Apartments’ Resource Center
619 Ervin Court
Florence, SC 29506
Phone: (843) 669-1571
|Center(s) Highlighted or Profiled:||Mount Zion A.M.E. Apartments' Resource Center|
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Department of Housing and Urban
451 7th Street S.W.,
Washington, DC 20410
708-1112 TTY: (202)