Let me pause in the story for just a minute to introduce myself.
My name is Lorinda Snyder, Lori for short. At the time this story was taking place, I was a newly - single mother of six (yes, six) kids ranging in age from 4-16…one in every school in my neighborhood. I worked a full-time job (with some freelance work on the side) just to keep a roof over our heads.
I was busy.
Too busy (I thought) to try to change anything in my life.
All I could do was pray for change.
That phrase makes me smile now, because we tend to think of prayer as an ineffective, last ditch effort, but when I look at what happened next, I know it’s the most powerful tool we have for change.
Let’s get back to the story:
Evidently, I wasn’t the only one praying for change because very soon afterward, Divine Providence stepped in and created an alliance of those of us who were trying to change things in our community. The group was called The Alliance for Excellence and it brought together community residents and people with the power to get things done. We had representatives from the school district, law enforcement, city government, the judicial system, and many local non-profit service providers.
It was a Dream Team for change…and it worked.
The Alliance took a holistic approach to changing the community and worked to strengthen families, schools, and neighborhoods.
The impact we had together was phenomenal, and so was the impact on me. I saw residents who lived behind bolted doors and barred windows take a few hesitant steps outside and eventually take part in neighborhood block parties. I saw drug dealers pack up and slink away into the shadows as the renewed vitality of the community created a hostile environment for their trade. I saw crack houses torn down and vacant lots turned into community gardens. I saw families that had been torn apart by addiction and apathy reunited and thriving. I saw kids who typically moved three or four times a year finally be able to have enough stability in their lives that they could take the time to make friends and finish school projects.
As the community changed, so did I, and so did my family. All the changes I had wanted were starting to show up in my life. Like other kids in the neighborhood, my kids started working on community projects and thinking about the things they wanted to see happen. They showed up to bag and deliver farm-fresh produce from our alliance with local farmers. They tutored and mentored younger students in their schools. In the process of it all, they learned to lead and how to create the world they wanted no matter where they were.
We weren’t a huge team, we didn’t have endless resources or a fat wad of government grant money to spend (or the restrictions that come with it). We were a grass-roots group who did what we could, where we were, with what we had; and proved in the doing that lasting change trickles up, not down.
Changing one community and the families in it is certainly a wonderful thing, but the important take-away from our story is that what worked for us can work for every community, everywhere.
There was nothing special about us.
There wasn’t anything unique to our community.
The change we created is a formula that can be replicated by any group of committed people
The formula is built around the four foundations of a community:
When those four areas are strong and functioning properly, the community is strong. If there are weaknesses in any of those four pillars, the community will be weak as well.
Not incidentally, the same things that make strong communities make strong families. Families are the cellular level of a community. Strong families strengthen communities and vice versa.
Fast-forward to present day:
It’s been almost two decades since I took those first few hesitant steps into the unknown, fumbling my way toward a dream I could only see with my heart. I’ve watched my kids launch themselves toward their own dreams, armed with the tools and skills they need to reach their goals as well as the confidence that comes from being part of something bigger than themselves at an early age.
I’ve had the honor of facilitating change in other communities since then, each one has had unique challenges to meet, but the Four – Pillar formula has never failed to work. As I write this, I’m in a new community. It isn’t where I intended to be, but God had a different plan. This new place is full of challenges, but ripe for change. I’m learning the landscape, working to understand where the failure points are, and building a new alliance.
If you’d like an inside look at how trickle-up change can happen, in a person, in a family, and in a community, I’d love to share the journey with you. You can get a front row seat and watch this happen in real-time, just click the link below to get regular updates and connect with me on your favorite social media platform.
You were meant for more!