How do you create a caring, connected community?
Maybe it's just me, but feels like one of the big, important questions right now.
It's also a practical one: our mission statement starts with that goal, "creating a community'' (And, not just any community, "a caring, connected" one, "where everyone can learn, teach and contribute")
That noun, community, operates on multiple levels
- The kind of city, and region, we are helping create by making education more accessible to adults and by involving volunteers in that process, that's one form of creating community. This is the impact we make beyond ourselves – and this year 54 volunteers helped something like 230 adult learners.
- The community that happens in the ABE programs and classrooms that our tutors join, where teachers, students and volunteers come together. We're pretty good at this in ABE. Our classrooms are warm, and one of the benefits of having tutors is that students know there are people there to help them. (Especially when they realize, this person is giving freely of their time as a volunteer for no reason other than to help them)
- And the community that is HTM: a solo staff person and a scattered group of volunteers. I greet people at trainings with exclamations of how nice it is to meet the person behind the email, because well, it's a lot of email.
It's this last one that I've been thinking about.
This winter I emailed our volunteers:
"Things I know:
I'm emailing a couple dozen really interesting people (often with common interests)
Several people have mentioned connection and getting to know the community among their goals for tutoring.
I'm writing a mission statement that starts with "community"
I know that most of you come in, tutor with your class, and leave without ever interacting with other tutors (even if you work with the same class)"
And I asked for their feedback about different ways we might build community.
Next month I'm finally putting that feedback in to action, and gathering out scattered, email-y little HTM community for a bit of food, and face-time, and a chance to talk about what we have in common.
I don't feel like I have all of the answers to that big, ambitious, community building mission, but these things I know are a start.
Tutors, I hope you'll join us on the 20th. Please email Allison to RSVP