Growing with Community Partners
We're so thankful for the many church, schools and organizations that also serve the communities of Binghampton, The Heights & Orange Mound. Today, Kelly shares a little about a few places we had the opportunity to visit recently.
This winter, we have had the opportunity to use our Tuesday staff meeting time to visit some of the movers and shakers in the communities we serve. As we remind ourselves often, we are just a small piece of the larger community development/kingdom restoration puzzle, with limited resources to serve a specific need. Because of this, we desperately need to connect with and learn from neighbors, stakeholders, ministry partners, churches, and visionaries who are working alongside of us in Memphis. In that spirit, we’ve spent time with three amazing organizations over the last few months in hopes of building stronger ties and learning more about how the Lord is using each of us to care for his children.
First we visited the Center for Transforming Communities where our own SOS summer staff alumna Mindi (McAlpin) Stewart works. They’re located right around the corner from us in Binghampton at The Commons on Merton. CTC engages, equips, and mobilizes individuals, organizations, and congregations to be agents of holistic transformation in their neighborhoods and communities. They’re specialists in the practice of Asset Based Community Development or ABCD. Several of our year-round staff at SOS have gone through their ABCD training that equips its participants to shift their paradigm away from viewing neighborhoods and communities as deficient or "bad" and towards viewing neighborhoods and communities with an eye for abundance. We also learned about their Shalom Zone meetings, a monthly gathering of neighbors usually sharing a meal with one another dreaming and planning the next community event. We really respect the work CTC is doing and are excited to continue to partner with them!
Our second visit was with the unparalleled Mr. Mike Mennis of the Landmark Training Development Company in Orange Mound. Mike moved to Orange Mound and, after extensive research, he started growing a community garden that has expanded into a fruit orchard and chicken coop. Landmark sells its produce, herbal teas, honey, pecans, and pickled veggies in its Farmers Market as well as runs a free food pantry next door. Mr. Mennis is a jack of all trades who sees a community need and puts his heart, soul and mind into meeting it. Landmark runs a Youth Urban Farms Training Program that strives to help young people develop the work skills and positive attitude through growing food for themselves and their community! Memphians should check out all the goodies sold at the Landmark Farmers Market at 2489 Carnes.
Lastly, we headed on over to the Heights for a visit with Head Interventionist, Mrs. Parsons, at Treadwell Middle School. We were all deeply encouraged by Mrs. Parsons positive energy and obvious love and care for the school as a whole all the way down to each individual student or “her babies” as she spoke of them. Treadwell has seen incredible improvements, pulling themselves up out of the bottom 5% of schools in Tennessee. It’s clear that their teachers and students are working hard and rising above the challenges that they face.
I want to say a HUGE thank you to Kenny and Mindi at CTC, Mike Mennis at Landmark and Mrs. Parsons at Treadwell Middle! You gave us a great gift by sharing your time with us and encouraging us as we work towards being a presence of renewal and light in Binghampton, Orange Mound and the Heights!