The following blog post was made by Natalie McDonald, Program Director, Northside:
As a social worker at our Lincoln Mews apartment community in North Richmond, I was elated to see residents band together when faced with the adversities of recent summer storms.
The Lincoln Mews Resident Council sprang into action when storms caused power outages for a second time. One member suggested that the Community Center become a cooling center. Mary Kay Huss, BHC’s vice president of operations, and Marisha Hicks, Lincoln Mews’ property manager, were at the meeting, heard the suggestion, and made it happen.
Property management staff supplied a generator, an in-window air conditioner, ice and water — and a considerable amount of physical effort — to create a cool space for residents. Richmond City Councilman Christopher Hilbert, after attending the Resident Council meeting, provided snacks and additional ice and water. The Department of Social Services also provided water, which Resident Council members distributed to those in need on their individual blocks. The Resident Council members also volunteered shifts in the Community Center, which served as a cool, safe place for those with breathing problems, seniors, expectant mothers and those with young children.
I would venture to say that before BHC revitalized this community, residents were not as engaged or empowered to participate in such coordinated efforts. They did not have a community center, but, thanks to the generosity of the Robins Foundation, they now have a gathering place to meet, learn and celebrate – and take care of each other times of need!
In the social work field, we measure progress in baby steps and we must take the long view with regards to changing communities. It’s truly inspiring to see a growing sense of community at Lincoln Mews as the spirit of neighbors helping neighbors develops. I am fortunate to experience first-hand the impact that the Better Housing Coalition is making here.