Kate McAllister is the Program Coordinator for Neighbor-to-Neighbor’s Eviction Prevention & Rapid Rehousing programs. She played an instrumental role in N2N’s founding seven years ago, and has been an integral part of the program’s development ever since.
What an outpouring of magazines we received! Glossy piles of different colors, textures, smells, and themes that my interns and I spread upon tables all pushed together to make one. Our families chose their favorite colored poster board, and with scissors and glue in hand, began to create a vision of their goals and dreams.
Vision board evening is always one of my favorites during the Neighbor-to-Neighbor Program year. It is interesting to watch people bring their goals to life, to fill their boards with words and photographs that symbolize what they value and believe in. Families want their lives to be filled with homes that are warm and inviting, food that nurtures and keeps them healthy, cars that take them to work or school, and partners and children that provide love and laughter. They choose words like self-confidence, respect, value, powerful, health, prayer. Some paste glorious gardens to work on, while others dream of traveling and having an adventure. Each person’s vision is theirs alone, yet it is one more thread in the life that we all weave together.
The joy in these evenings is less the goal or theme, but rather the conversations that take place around what becomes our ‘kitchen table’. Recently someone brought up that his son has been bullied in school; how should he react as a parent? What have others experienced and how do they handle it? This parent went to the principal to no avail. He’s frustrated with the system and knows that if he tells his son to fight back, it will then become a serious problem for his son; if he fights, well then the school will step in. It will look like his son is the bully rather than the one being bullied.
Another person said that she “was done” with the man in her life. He had differences of faith, child-rearing, and money. This got every single person to chime in about relationships. Some talked about how they had become friends with their ex’s, how they wished they had known some of the wisdom they now possess. Others talked about not looking for any relationships until they figured out who they are and what is right for their lives.
We talk about books we like, music we enjoy, who inspires us, what we are learning, what are our favorite quotes, what is life like in the communities we live in, what are our families like, what frustrates us, what thrills us… Sitting around our make-shift kitchen table, we talk about life.
Love God, Love your Neighbor, Change the World. One person at a time.