[vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]While sitting on the Board of Zoning Appeals for the City of Valparaiso, I had the opportunity to help rezone some area in my neighborhood. The goal was to be able to take a building that was formerly used for low-income healthcare service and repurpose it for low-income housing for women. During that public conversation, I got to know the non-profit next door, Hilltop Neighborhood House. This was one of the first non-profits in Valpo to help serve the community through childcare. Over the years it morphed into a very nice program that was able to serve all aspects of the community while offering scholarships for those who were not able to afford the services.
Later in 2013, I joined the board of directors and got involved in fundraising efforts. We raised money through a ‘soups’ fundraiser along with an event during Popcorn Fest and lastly, through direct asks that were paired with direct mail pieces. I helped support the food pantry and helped rebuild the playground during my time and felt that this non-profit was ran like a business and created some of the highest level of deliverables in the community. I am a firm believer that we must lead with our head and follow our hearts. Logic comes before emotion because if you have no money, you have no mission. HNH is no doubt one of my best experiences being able to serve the community at large.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]
In the Fall of 2013, I was recruited to sit on the advisory board of JA of NWI, a division of Chicago. While a lot of our focus was to think of ways we could raise funds to support various programming, it was also to recruit volunteers and other advocates to teach in the classroom.
I was fortunate enough where I taught a multi-week series at Central Elementary in Valparaiso. One of the best parts of this organization is that I was able to go back to my home school system, River Forest Elementary School, to do ‘JA in a Day’. This programming essentially puts all of what kids will learn over the course of a few weeks in just a few hours. The teacher of the classroom was actually one of my peers in yearbook class from when I was in high school. While I enjoyed teaching financial literacy to the kids, we had a section on the zoning of a community which was exciting talking about schools and hospitals being placed next to graveyards.
After meeting Vanessa Allen, CEO of the Urban League of Northwest Indiana through the Leadership Northwest Indiana program, I was pulled onto the board through 2010. Because of the meeting times during lunch, it was hard to get to them due to the 40-minute commute so I stepped off but wanted to stay involved. The Urban League Young Professionals group was the right it and I was able to interact and learn more about issues that tended to fall outside of my immediate community.
Post-Tribune, The (Merrillville, IN) (Published as Post-Tribune (IN)) – January 13, 2011
Edition: All Editions
Section: News – Metro
Urban League installs leaders
By Lisa DeNeal
GARY — It was standing room only Wednesday during the Urban League of Northwest Indiana’s installation of the 2011 board and advisory council members inside the office at 3101 Broadway.
“This will be a broader and more diverse organization serving those in Lake, Porter and LaPorte counties,” Urban League CEO Vanessa Allen said. “We will be behind the definition of what the Urban League is about — education, economic empowerment, health and wellness, civic leadership and civil rights.”
Chairman of the Board Richard Hardaway told the new board and advisory council members that being a supporter of the Urban League of is the “highest level of volunteering in the organization. You are working for the community and the people in three major counties and they are welcoming you to be a part of it all,” he said.
“We want to not only be a pillar in the community, but we want the National Urban League headquarters to recognize us as a prime example of what they stand for.”
Highland Clerk-Treasurer Michael Griffin conducted the 2011 installation ceremony, saying this was a reflection of their progress in the last year since Allen was named president and CEO. “This …
is about forming a more perfect union. It is not about you and me, it is about all of us working together for others. It is about what is in your hearts.” and I know you all are committed to do from the heart, what is best for the community,” he said.
The 2011 executive board:
Richard Hardaway; chairman
Michael Suggs, vice chairman of internal affairs
Joe Wade, vice chairman of membership
Darian Collins, vice chairperson of programs
State Rep Vernon G. Smith, vice chairman of special projects
Father Thomas Mischler, secretary
Brenda Smith, treasurer
Juan M. Andrade, Runetta Brown, Gary School Superintendent Myrtle Campbell, Yolanda Chatfield, Darian Collins, Isaac Culver, Reginald Dotson, Calumet Township Trustee Mary Elgin, Juan Fernandez, Lisette Guillen-Gardner, Marilyn Hairston, Ragen Hatcher, Roosevelt Haywood, Alfred Johnson, Vance Kenney, Patricia Lawson, Indiana University Northwest Chancellor William Lowe, Ian McFadden, Jim McShane, Marlon Mitchell, Robert Ordway, Suzette Raggs, Art Russell, Gene Stubblefield, J. Guadalupe Valtierra, the Rev. Emmanuel Vaughn, Shirley Walls, Gail Watkins, Ann West-Walker and Steven May.
The 2011 Advisory Council:
Loreece Bly, the Rev. Carrell K. Cargle, Gary Police Chief Gary Carter, Shalonda Crump, Paul Dawning, Augusta DeNeal, Elder Willie Eastland, Steven Gill, Tera Grinnell, Bishop Norman Hairston, Richard G. Hatcher, Belinda Huley, Glenn Johnson, Mae Jones, Harold Jones, Irene Scott-King, Sherry Knight, Robert Latiker, Pamela Marshall, Carolyn McCrady, Lavelle Morgan, Debbie Niksch, Joyce Nyongani, Natalie Pugh, Karen Pulliam,
Frank Rivera, Lori K. Sloan, Alisa Spencer, Mary Steele-Agee, Robin Tien, Henry Turner Jr., Rosalyn Whitfield, Annette Williams, Che Wright and Chanelle Yarber.