Serve Minneapolis

by Robyn Brown | Mar 20, 2012
| 0 Comments

Summary:

Serve Minneapolis seeks to connect immigrant communities with their American neighbors through an emphasis on learning, cross-cultural understanding, and service. Volunteer participants from diverse backgrounds will be matched with other participants they do not know to form groups of 6-8 individuals. They will commit to gathering together once a week for two months. Every other week, they will participate in a service project to learn about a different part of their community (for example, serving meals at a homeless shelter, visiting nursing home residents, giving presentations at local schools, etc.). The weeks in between, participants will gather in their groups to discuss impressions from their service and learn about each other through games and facilitated conversation. At these meetings, they’ll share coffee and tea, and take turns bringing snacks from their countries. Conversation topics may include questions like: How are the elderly cared for in your culture? What options did you have in your home country to pursue education? How does your faith tradition respond to needs of the poor?

The aim of this initiative is fourfold: (1) help immigrants get to know Americans, (2) help Americans grow in their cultural understanding, (3) expose all participants to populations they may not encounter in their daily lives, and (4) inspire participants to find a type of volunteer service they enjoy and can carry on individually or collectively after the program ends.

The program will be implemented by a local organization (to be determined) and begin in the culturally diverse, low-income Phillips Neighborhood in Minneapolis. I often visit friends who live in this neighborhood, and I attend a church near it. The participants will serve organizations in or surrounding this neighborhood. The program will encourage participants to take pride and ownership in the community, get to know their neighbors, and take initiative to work together so it can flourish.

About You

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About You

First Name

Robyn

Last Name

Brown

Country

United States, MN, Hennepin County

City

live: Richfield, school: Minneapolis

Innovation

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Title

Serve Minneapolis

What is your best idea to build bonds and work together across cultures and faiths in your community?

Serve Minneapolis seeks to connect immigrant communities with their American neighbors through an emphasis on learning, cross-cultural understanding, and service. Volunteer participants from diverse backgrounds will be matched with other participants they do not know to form groups of 6-8 individuals. They will commit to gathering together once a week for two months. Every other week, they will participate in a service project to learn about a different part of their community (for example, serving meals at a homeless shelter, visiting nursing home residents, giving presentations at local schools, etc.). The weeks in between, participants will gather in their groups to discuss impressions from their service and learn about each other through games and facilitated conversation. At these meetings, they’ll share coffee and tea, and take turns bringing snacks from their countries. Conversation topics may include questions like: How are the elderly cared for in your culture? What options did you have in your home country to pursue education? How does your faith tradition respond to needs of the poor?
The aim of this initiative is fourfold: (1) help immigrants get to know Americans, (2) help Americans grow in their cultural understanding, (3) expose all participants to populations they may not encounter in their daily lives, and (4) inspire participants to find a type of volunteer service they enjoy and can carry on individually or collectively after the program ends.
The program will be implemented by a local organization (to be determined) and begin in the culturally diverse, low-income Phillips Neighborhood in Minneapolis. I often visit friends who live in this neighborhood, and I attend a church near it. The participants will serve organizations in or surrounding this neighborhood. The program will encourage participants to take pride and ownership in the community, get to know their neighbors, and take initiative to work together so it can flourish.

Impact and Sustainability

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How will your idea have a positive impact on your community?

Serve Minneapolis will have both short-term and long-term impact on the community.

In the short-term, participants will provide valuable, tangible service to community organizations. The coordinator will network with local organizations to determine what projects or opportunities would be best for the group's size and time constraints while also being mutually beneficial (that is, service that helps organizations while also providing a meaningful learning opportunities for the participants). In the short term, participants will (1) learn more about diverse aspects of their community which they otherwise may never come into contact with, (2) see firsthand many needs in the community, and (3) explore several ways the community is addressing those needs.

Besides this service aspect, the program will also give participants regular chances to interact with their fellow group members. The composition of the groups will intentionally include persons of diverse cultural and religious backgrounds. Through the common experiences of serving together regularly, and through biweekly guided conversations, a bond will be created that will be a foundation for building friendships, learning about each other, and growing in understanding of other faiths and cultures.

One of the exciting parts of this program is the tremendous opportunity for long-term impact. The participants will be exposed to many new people culture, ideas, and community organizations, so there will be numerous possibilities for the program's impact to continue long beyond the end of the coordinated piece. Possibilities include long-term friendships between participants, further dialogue on faith and culture, and greater interest in and commitment to community service. Participants may to decide to continue meeting together to continue building relational bridges, take more initiative to get to know others in their community, or even collaborate with each other to address another community need.

What do you think the lasting effect will be if your idea is implemented?

The lasting effect will be a stronger awareness among participants about the many cultures, faiths, and needs in the community. Participants will likely talk about their experiences in Serve Minneapolis with their friends and family, spreading the effect more widely than just the group itself. The organizations involved will also benefit long-term from sharing about their goals, programs, and services with the participants. This could result in more long-term volunteers, financial donations, and new avenues to connect with diverse members of the community which the organizations had not reached out to before.

This idea can be expanded in several ways. It can include more groups to enable more participants and organizations to benefit, or it could extend beyond the two-month time commitment so participants are exposed to even more opportunities to serve the community and build relationships. The idea can also be expanded beyond the neighborhood into different neighborhoods of Minneapolis, or even in other cities. The main needs when expanding will be finding someone in the community who is willing to coordinate the program, and identifying a meeting space for the biweekly discussions.

The grant funds may be used to implement the program (and possibly its expansion) in the following ways: paying a coordinator, retaining legal counsel to advise on liability issues, obtaining a meeting place and food for discussions, and/or providing transportation for participants.

Robyn Brown updated this Competition Entry. - 2657 days ago

Robyn Brown updated this Competition Entry. - 2674 days ago

Robyn Brown submitted this idea. - 2674 days ago