GrowSouth VISTA team members get to know their neighborhoods

GrowSouth Americorp VISTA Initiative

Year Two : The First Month
Eight VISTA team members, include 6 new, began our second year on August 1, 2016. Two more joined at the end of the month. We are very proud to have the people we do on our team and invite you to read their brief bios at the end of this post, but first here is a brief summary of what we have been up to for month one:

Building relationships. With 8 new VISTA’s this year, month one has been all about building relationships.

2016-vistas2016 (Without Benjamin, who was sick that day)

As she gets to know her neighborhoods, Altha has been working with neighborhoods to increase social media presence, and has also worked to engage the high schools in the work on neighborhood associations. A native of West Dallas, Altha is working with neighborhoods in her hometown area. As a community leader in her own neighborhood, Altha has a passion for community wellness and education, and has been successful in building strong relationships within her service area.

Benjamin has learned about the history of each neighborhood, helping them to identify specific and measurable goals. He has also encouraged neighborhoods to join citywide or area associations such as Dallas Homeowners League, and the Oak Cliff Conversation League to connect them with grant funding, and a collective voice. Benjamin is serving neighborhoods in the South Central Oak Cliff.

A native of Redbird, Cimajie is working with neighborhoods in Southeast Dallas. As she builds relationships, she has identified and connected with key leaders, noting points of interest and common objectives. With help from City of Dallas’ Neighborhood Vitality group, she was able to help connect a neighborhood with some grant funding. Cimajie has a great passion for Southern Dallas, the place she grew up and calls home.

vistas_at_workVISTA Team planning Session at UNT Dallas; August 26, 2016

Kardal is a returning VISTA for year two, and serves with neighborhoods in the South Dallas/Fair Park area. As a second year VISTA Kardal has the benefit of established relationships with the communities he serves, and has established the trust of his neighborhood partners. So far this year, Kardal has been veryactive in planning National Night Out events (coming up October 4th) and community cleanups that encourage beautification and neighbors getting to know one another. Kardal is a native of Pleasant Grove

vistas_at_work2A community cleanup in South Dallas/Fair Park; September 10, 2016

A native of Dallas, Marcus is working with neighborhoods in the Pleasant Grove area. In the first month, Marcus has been actively working with the Community Prosecutor in the area to understand where neighborhood associations are active, and where residents are interested in forming new ones. He has been active at listening to community concerns, while seeking to also understand opportunities for growth. Marcus has also begun building partnerships with area businesses and non-profits toward supporting community initiatives.

Paige is working with neighborhoods in the South Central Oak Cliff area. A native of Southern Dallas County, Paige has been active in building a relationship with neighborhood leadership, City of Dallas’ Neighborhood Plus and Community Prosecution in her area. She is working toward several events that will address code issues, and is also working with leaders on events that will encourage a culture of neighborliness among their groups.

chiefonthebeat_vistasChief On The Beat at Paul Quinn College; September 10, 2016

Steven is our VISTA team member in North Central Oak Cliff. As he actively listens to community concerns, Steven has identified several opportunities including: working with neighborhood leadership to organize and recruit code ambassadors for each block, organizing a community cleanup event involving high school students. Steven and VISTA teammate Tracy are also working together with neighborhood leadership and Community Prosecution to start a merchants association in their area.

Our two newest VISTA’s, Danelle & Tracy, are just getting started and we will have more about them and their work next month. Danelle is serving in the Redbird area, and Tracy will be serving generally across neighborhoods in the area of entrepreneurship and small business training.

Bios of 2016 VISTA Team members

Altha Moore
A Pinkston High School graduate, Ms. Moore was born and raised in West Dallas. She is a lifelong educator, entrepreneur and neighborhood leader, and volunteers her time very generously for her community. One of her favorite quotes is from Nelson Henderson. “The true meaning of life is to plant trees, under whose shade you do not expect to sit.” Ms. Moore earned a Masters in Psychology and Masters in Adult Education and Training, and also holds a Grant Writer Certification.

Benjamin Leamon
Benjamin is a recent PhD Graduate in Urban and Public Affairs from the University of Louisville. In fact, in his dissertation he researched the development and history of Southern Dallas. A native of the DFW area, he is very excited to be back.

Cimajie Best
Cimajie was born and raised in Southern Dallas. She attended high school in North Dallas, giving her a unique perspective on the whole city. A native of the Redbird area of Oak Cliff, she is a recent graduate of Louisiana State University, earning a BA in Philosphy. Cimajie has a variety of experiences and interests including the arts, education, marketing, and entrepreneurship, among others.

Danielle Conley
A current graduate student of UT-Arlington’s Master of Public Administration, Danielle is very active in developing people. She says that what makes her happy is to see others happy! In 2013 she started a mentoring program called G.R.O.W., for girls in 5th-12th grade, and has been involved for several years with Senator Royce West and the Emmet J. Conrad Leadership Program.

Kardal Coleman
Kardal is serving his 2nd year with the growSouth VISTA program. A native of the Pleasant Grove area of Dallas, Kardal has a deep passion for serving his community and recognizing gifts and skills in others. This past year he served with neighborhoods in the South Dallas /Fair Park area, and will continue there in 2016-2017. Kardal earned a BA in Communications from Stephen F. Austin University.

Marcus Albright
Marcus is an Oak Cliff guy with a heart for service. A certified first responder (FEMA, National Fire Academy, National Incident Management System), Marcus has served in emergency medicine and public health capacities in the Dominican Republic, Haiti, and Dallas. He has also worked as a research assistant for the World Health Organization. His experience and perspective will be incredibly valuable. Marcus earned a certification in Emergency Medicine from Brookhaven College.

Paige Ransom
A native of Southern Dallas County, Paige is a self-motivated student and professional. She has served in a variety of capacities, including: organizing (with Desoto Student Council), mentoring (with PAL – Peer Assisted Leadership), and counseling (with Camp Jubilee), and March of Dimes. A student at OU, one of her favorite quotes is from Mahatma Gandi: “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”

Steven Gregory
Steven comes to our team as a transfer from another VISTA program. He previously worked with WINS (Working In Neighborhoods Strategically), based in South Dallas/Fair Park, where he helped to successfully coordinate the establishment of a Public Improvement District for the area. Steven is originally from Alabama and earned a Master of Public Administration from the University of Alabama.

Tracy Williams
A native of Fort Wayne Indiana, Tracy wins the award for being the newest to Dallas, having moved here just three months ago. Tracy brings a variety of valuable experiences, including: work with an Indianapolis Community Development Corporation, Chamber of Commerce, and as a volunteer, also helped to remodel homes. Tracy earned a BA in Policy Studies/Public Management from Indiana University and seeks to study economic development and entrepreneurship in graduate school.