We all know the phrase, “it takes a village,” and one local community is taking that to heart and being the change they want to see.
Growing up in the area, Nathalie Johnson knows how challenging day to day living can be.
“A lot of kids with everything going on in this world, probably don’t have a lot of hope,” she said.
For years, her mother, Robin Johnson said their family of 8 has even fallen on tough times
“Basic needs are sometimes the biggest hurdles,” Ms. Johnson said.
But that hasn’t stopped them from giving back, they live by the motto that real change, starts at home.
“I first want to represent myself as a good citizen and someone that someone else, another citizen would maybe want to aspire to be,” said Ms. Johnson.
That’s why the mother-daughter duo are both enrolled in classes at Tri-C.
“You know sometimes I think I’m following in her footsteps, we are both learning from each other,” she said.
And when they’re not studying, they’re devoting their time to being Central Neighborhood Promise Ambassadors.
“In a community like Central Promise Neighborhood where there is an 82 percent poverty rate…the need is strong for residents to be a part of what it takes to transform this community to change those numbers,” explained Dawn Glasco, Engagement Coordinator for the Central Promise Neighborhood program.
The group of residents from the neighborhood train for ten weeks to go back into the neighborhood to advocate for change, growth, and education for all that live there.
“I like to look at it like building the community from the inside out. They do door to door canvassing around early learning education… they serve on parent advisory councils at our local schools they volunteer inside of the classrooms,” said Glasco.
And with less than 50% of residents graduating from high school, leaders tell me having someone so young like 19-year-old Nathalie to be apart, makes a world of difference.
“She’s able to tell her story, she’s able to spread her good energy and she’s able to be evidence of the work that we’re doing here at Promise,” Glasco said.
So what types of things would the young volunteer like to change? She explained what she hopes to bring are more books to her community and healthier foods.
“I know a lot probably aren’t eating a lot of fruits and vegetables…so they just get probably other unhealthy processed food,” Nathalie Johnson said.
An idea, Glasco said, is not too far-fetched.
“We absolutely encourage them to dream big and that can become a reality.”
The program just graduated nine promise ambassadors, including Nathalie, just last week. Some have already started doing work in the community.”