Chaundrissa Oyeshiku Smith, PhD, is a key member of the PNRC. She is a Clinical Psychologist and Assistant Professor at Emory University School of Medicine. She sent the following post to us from Atlanta.
It is always gratifying to find members of a community who are truly committed to their community. I was fortunate to encounter that kind of commitment during my work over the last year with Atlanta’s Adamsville neighborhood. Adamsville has the potential for great things and several community members passionately dedicated to make great things happen. In early 2010, I met two inspiring Adamsville community stakeholders who have been instrumental in moving their neighborhood forward in identifying priority goals for the community and in creating a plan of action to achieve these goals.
To understand Adamsville, you have to understand the pivotal role that the Adamsville Recreation Center plays within this neighborhood. The Center is one of the first things you see when you exit the interstate and drive down Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, and it is an impressive structure. Completed in 2003, it features an Olympic-size pool, gymnasium, and many classes and programs for community members. Neighborhood residents pay no membership fees or any other fees to use the facility. They simply have to sign in when they arrive and sign out when they leave. On a typical day, youth play basketball in the gym, little girls wearing frothy tutus prepare for dance class, and perhaps a group of adults is preparing for a weekly or monthly meeting. The indoor pool is always bustling, with teens practicing for their swim team or adults swimming laps. On weekends, community members can even rent out space for wedding receptions.
It is clear that the Adamsville Recreation Center is the epicenter of this community. Yet, Adamsville community members know that they could bring an even greater number of exciting activities to the Center. In the fall of 2010, Adamsville community stakeholders joined forces with the PNRC to hold community meetings in order to identify its needs and to develop strategies necessary to meet those needs. Of course, this meeting took place at the Adamsville Recreation Center!
At the forefront, Adamsville community members Cornelia King and Yolanda Reid have created a grassroots momentum to encourage positive change in the community. With their strong networking skills, they have emailed, called, met with, and strategized with individuals at all levels of local and even state government representatives to advocate for the needs of Adamsville. Further, they have submitted small grant applications to receive funding for enrichment programs that the Center would house. Other leaders within the Center submitted the Adamsville Recreation Center as a candidate for a $50,000 award from Maxwell House to renovate the center. Moreover, Cornelia and Yolanda are leading the effort to propose that Mayor Kasim Reed’s Centers of Hope Initiative chooses the Adamsville Recreation Center as a pilot center.
Adamsville is definitely on the road to accomplish great things, and, as with all grassroots efforts, sometimes it takes some time to get there. Partnerships like these make my role on the PNRC so worthwhile, and I look forward to continuing to walk this road with the Adamsville community.