Community Spotlight: First Match at Villa Victoria
We know first-hand how tough it can be to connect meaningfully in communities we hope to serve, so this week we featured one of our new and most proud community partners, Villa Victoria. In addition, we put together a list of tips to help other non-profits make the same impact in these communities- see below!
Located in the South End of Boston, Villa Victoria is an affordable housing community that offers many programs to its diverse community, including recreation, cultural, health, and educational services. These programs are offered for a wide range of age groups, but Villa Victoria has recognized that children aged 7-12, are currently missing out. That age is a critical time in every child’s healthy development. Seeing this gap as an opportunity to serve more youth, BBBSMB and Villa Victoria joined in a partnership to provide these kids with caring adult mentors. Although new, this partnership is already making a tremendous impact.
Jenna Gabriel, director of youth development programs at Villa Victoria, is very excited about this new partnership and what the children can gain from having adult mentors from outside their community. “I hope [the kids] see themselves as part of a larger community. One of the things that is beautiful about Villa Victoria is its inclusive, but one of the downsides of that is there is no need to go outside [the community]. We have this big city with cultural centers, and sports communities, and museums, and Big Brothers Big Sisters allows our kids to get out and see that”.
One of our first matches in the development is between Eliaz Medina and Patrick Burke. Eliaz’ mother is excited for this opportunity for her son and what it can provide him. “I hope that Eliaz is able to make a connection with a caring adult who can provide him with a consistent and positive male role model. It is normally just Eliaz and mom, and it is time for Eliaz to be independent in a friendship and take opportunities outside of his immediate environment”
Eliaz and Patrick have made great progress in their friendship thus far and Eliaz’ mother is excited for what the future holds for them. “I am looking most forward to Eliaz having someone to grow close to and spend time with”.
Communities like Villa Victoria are very tight-knit and can be tough to penetrate, no matter what your program has to offer. We spoke to our dedicated team who made this partnership possible and compiled a few tips for other non-profits on how to successfully get into these communities and make a difference!
4 tips for getting into tight-knit communities
1. Get to Know the Community
Working with the members of the community is one of the most important steps that can be taken. Speak to the residents and get to know their needs, culture, and any other valid information pertaining to the neighborhoods. With these communities being so tight-knit, getting to know the members helps greatly in making them comfortable with the program.
2. Collaborating With Community Staff
The members of the community are the most important people to have behind you, but ultimately the staff has the final say. Collaborate with these key individuals to help them understand how you can improve the area, as well as helping with the outreach.
3. Focused Outreach
Door knockings, mailings, whatever it takes. Reach out to the members of the community that you can impact and help them understand what you can offer them.
4. Hosting an Info Session
Hosting an information session on site can be extremely beneficial for both parties. Invite the community to learn more about the program and what it offers them, and allow them to ask any questions to clear up confusions and make them feel comfortable.