Neighbors Caring for Neighbors

10-02-2020

In a moment of crisis, neighbors throughout Evansville responded with help and love.  They cared for neighbors, provided help, shared love, and renewed hope in our city. 

This report highlights the impact that volunteers, churches, and partners had through the Need A Neighbor initiative in response to challenges from COVID-19.  

Learn more and see the full report here: www.needaneighbor.org/impact 

Thank you to the many volunteers and dozens of partners who loved their neighbors and shared Christ’s love with our community!

The Importance of Housing Restoration in a Time of COVID-19

08-11-2020

Few issues affect families and communities as broadly as housing. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted reasons why safe, decent, and affordable housing is important. Imagine sheltering in place in an unsafe home, lacking resources to get health care because of high housing costs in your neighborhood, or being evicted due to job loss from the economic downturn. These are several examples of why COVID-19 is not only a health crisis, but a housing crisis.

Before shelter-in-place orders took effect, we spent more than two-thirds of our time at home. This time has only increased in the first half of 2020, meaning the condition of our homes and neighborhoods are impacting our safety and well-being more than ever.

Disproportionately high housing costs lead to budget trade-offs related to food and health care. According to Opportunity 360, in Census Tract 13 which represents much of the Tepe Park neighborhood, 44% of homeowners and 68.6% of renters are considered cost-burdened, meaning these households spend more than 30% of their income on housing. 31.69% of households in Census Tract 13 are severely cost-burdened, meaning that 31.69% of households are at or below 80% AMI and spend more than half of their income on housing costs (https://dashboards.mysidewalk.com/opportunity360-community-dashboard-eda3eebc96ff/housing-stability-39de32cd144b). Without jobs, keeping these disproportionately high payments requires having even less available resources for essentials such as food and health care.

The economic downturn has clearly affected lower-income neighbors more drastically. According to the Pew Research Center, 52% of lower-income adults in the U.S. say they or someone in their household has lost a job or taken a pay cut due to the pandemic, compared to 43% of U.S. adults. Additionally, 77% of lower-income adults do not have rainy day funds to help cover expenses for 3 months in case of job loss or sickness (https://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2020/04/21/about-half-of-lower-income-americans-report-household-job-or-wage-loss-due-to-covid-19/#fn-28372-1 ). This leaves lower-income populations with more financial and housing instability as eviction and foreclosure moratoriums end.

COVID-19 precautions continue to impact our programs and the size of our volunteer activities. However, we continue to press forward in restoring homes, hope, and our community with small groups of volunteers and contractor partners. By continuing to work for safe, decent, and truly affordable housing in Evansville, we are contributing to stabilization for our hardest-hit communities in a time of increased financial uncertainty.

We're still helping neighbors love their neighbors.

03-17-2020

Dear Community One Friends,

As we all make adjustments to our regular routines, I need to share some updates with you from within Community One about COVID-19.

We are here. We are working. We are helping neighbors love their neighbors.

The heart of Community One is to help neighbors love their neighbors. And that is exactly what we are doing thanks to supporters, partners, and advocates like you! 

What We’re Doing Now

Programs are continuing but with an appropriate level of care and caution.

  • Home Repair Projects.  Home repair projects will continue, but we are limiting them to projects outside of neighbor’s homes. For example, three critically needed roof replacements will proceed with a local roofing partner. We can deliver these life-changing projects for families while volunteers and partners remain at a safe distance.
  • Whole-House Rehabs.  This transformative work will move forward with the safety of volunteers and neighbors in mind. We are suspending large group volunteer activities at all sites. Our dedicated restoration crew and individual volunteers will focus on completing 710 Madison Avenue in small teams. All volunteers will keep a safe distance from each other and from surrounding vulnerable neighbors.  
  • Neighborhood Revitalization.  Our team is working alongside neighborhood leaders and other nonprofits. We are supporting neighborhood leadership as they check-in with their elderly and isolated neighbors. We are also connecting families to services and resources where needed.

What We’re Doing in Response

In addition to our ongoing programs, we are quickly developing resources that enable God’s people – through local churches – to respond safely and effectively to the needs of neighbors in two ways: 'Loving Your Neighbor Where You Are' and 'Loving Your Neighbor Where You Are Called.'

  • Love Your Neighbor Where You Are.  In partnership with For Evansville, we’ve developed a tool to help people love their neighbors where they are (in their neighborhoods). It is a simple notecard that can be filled out and delivered to say how someone is willing to offer help and prayers.
  • Love Your Neighbor Where You Are Called.  We are rapidly developing a web-based crisis response platform that shares the needs of neighbors from our larger community and connects them with volunteers from local churches. Stay tuned for updates!

What You Can Do

Please don’t underestimate your power to be a light in this time of fear and darkness. You can take action now!

  • Pray.  Pray for your neighbors. Pray for our community. Pray for an outpouring of love from Christ-followers through local churches. Listen to how God might prompt you to response.
  • Love Your Neighbors.  If you are able, reach out to those geographically closest to you. Check on them, offer prayer and encouragement, and serve them as best you can. 
  • Volunteer.  The time to respond with the tangible, reassuring, and calming love of Jesus is now. Support the efforts of your local church and nonprofits to meet needs in our community.
  • Support.  Your financial gifts fuel our growing work in helping neighbors love neighbors. Please consider a gift to extend help and hope to your neighbors.  

If you have any questions, please email info[at]community1.org or call 812-250-6888. Let’s stay connected in love and compassion as we respond to the needs of our community.  

Gratefully,

Eric Cummings
Executive Director

Neighborhood Early Action Projects

06-25-2019

The Tepe Park neighborhood is not community of need.  Instead, it is a community of potential waiting to be activated!

In an effort to build a movement that leads to action, Community One partnered with the Tepe Park Neighborhood Association to launch early action projects in 2018.  

Early action projects involve a formal application process with accountability from winners.  The most important outcome is simple – neighbors resourced to bring their vision for change from an idea into reality!

Here are highlights from four successful early action projects from this past year:

  • Vernon purchased lawn equipment to mow yards for Tepe Park neighbors who aren’t able to do so for themselves.  This is a kind and loving thing to do for others, but it also keeps the neighborhood clean and well kept.
  • Cathy and Lisa launched a youth-centric movement called the Southside Stars Youth Zone last year.  Early action project funds supported their early efforts to connect youth, their families, and the community through service activities, building leadership skills, and improving communication.  SSYZ even won the Sam Featherstone Youth Award from Leadership Everyone this year!
  • Rhonda completed a fence painting project with four other residents. Their work beautified the neighborhood and inspired a sense of pride in the community.
  • Carmen is building a community good box so neighbors can both leave and take nonperishable food and personal hygiene items to benefit the whole community.

This is only the beginning for resident-led early action projects!  Community One and TPNA plan to do another round later in 2019.  Stay tuned to our Facebook page for details!

The Importance of Posture in Neighborhood Work

05-25-2018

Many Christians, desiring to put their faith into action, go into under resourced neighborhoods to share the love of Jesus and generously give their time, talents, and resources to help their neighbors.  We want to multiply these intentions, not paralyze the church into inaction. However…

We must change our posture and approach when engaging as the church in under resourced neighborhoods.

As disciples of Jesus, we readily follow him into service.  Some even follow Jesus into his ministry to the “least of these” (Matthew 25:40) — the marginalized of society.  But we also must model the posture Jesus used when working with people that needed restoration.

Think of Jesus’ life and ministry to the marginalized and how he positioned himself.  He went to them, ate with them, walked alongside them, talked with them, sat with them, and listened to them.  In everything, he built relationships and conveyed the truth that they belonged with him and he to them.

Sometimes, even in the name of serving, people position themselves above or apart from those they serve.  Their action is right, but their posture is wrong. They stand in a position of privilege and power.  They serve from the other side of the table, and then they leave the neighborhood until it is time to serve again next month, quarter, or year.

If you are feeling bad at this point, please don’t!  We want to affirm any impulse, especially when compelled by faith, to love neighbors.  Just as we must deepen our understanding of scripture, prayer, worship, and other fundamental areas of Christian faith, we also need to grow in our understanding of what it means to serve in the way of Jesus. 

To that end, here are some practical tips we’ve learned along the way:

  1. Put on God's glasses.  It is crucial to see neighbors in under resourced neighborhoods as people of infinite worth, not as people of need.  They are made in His image and carry inherent dignity, worth, and purpose.
  2. Join existing activities.  It is tempting to go into neighborhoods, see great needs, and want to start new events or initiatives.  But there are already people in the neighborhood who care and are working on solutions!  Try joining what they’re already doing in their neighborhood.
  3. Come around the table.  This has two meanings. (1) If you are serving at a table for some event or service opportunity, don’t stand behind it the whole time. Come around and sit or stand next to people!  (2) Always sit around the table with neighbors when eating or discussing. These simple actions help take you beyond a service role and into relationship.
  4. Ask lots of questions then actively listen.  Neighbors are the experts of their neighborhoods.  Asking them questions that allow them to share their expertise with you dramatically changes your position.  Then, you have to do the really difficult work of listening without interjecting and placing yourself into the expert position.
  5. Repeat presence.  Nothing builds trust faster than loving, consistent presence.  However, that process is not fast. If you continue to show up and invest with appropriate posture, neighbors will be more likely to open up and receive the love of Christ through you.

What other ideas, learned practices, and tips can you think of to encourage appropriate posture when engaging in neighborhood revitalization?


Latest News

Neighbors Caring for Neighbors

The Importance of Housing Restoration in a Time of COVID-19

We're still helping neighbors love their neighbors.

Neighborhood Early Action Projects

The Importance of Posture in Neighborhood Work