Sara Morris: Stonehill College in partnership with Brockton’s Promise

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Sara Morris: Stonehill College in partnership with Brockton’s Promise

Accountability is a huge word in my opinion. Accountability means that you not only practice what you preach, but also strive to lead others within your sphere of influence to do the same. This can be incredibly challenging, but the results of accountable leadership to the community around us whether that is local, national or global, are beautiful. This word, Accountability, is why I applied to stay at my Alma Matter, Stonehill College, and work from within systems I already knew how to navigate to leverage our resources as an institution of higher education to the Brockton community that we sit beside- or in depending on which entrance you use.

I am the MACC VISTA serving at Stonehill College as the Coordinator for our new Downtown Center for Community Engagement, in partnership with Brockton’s Promise. The preceding MACC VISTA and friend, Gabby Peruccio, laid the groundwork for the relationship between Stonehill College and HarborOne Bank to establish our downtown “remote” campus and community center. This year my primary responsibility has been facilitating the use of the space by local nonprofit partners, managing the outreach to community partners on and off campus to understand what the space can be used for, and increasing the effective programming that comes out of the center.

The DCCE has become a hotbed of grassroots work for the city of Brockton and beyond, as the groups we host here either just for meetings, or more permanently within our Nonprofit Incubation space are all mission driven, synergistic, and eager to make social change happen. By providing content, resources, and networking opportunities, the Stonehill DCCE engages with this work and furthers the goals of each respective group.

Some examples of the work that happens out of the DCCE is:
– Service opportunity planning by National Honors Society students at Brockton High School through their partnership with Crossroads Massachusetts
– The pilot coordination of a homelessness coalition that works on effective housing policy for low income cities such as Brockton, that spun off of efforts by the city to curb family homelessness
– Grant research for local nonprofits who are seeking funds to begin their important, youth focused work
– The Brockton Community Garden Network resource room & planning committees are housed with the DCCE, working to increase food access for families throughout Brockton
– The SABURA, Inc. Cape Verdean summer camp offices operate out of the incubation space.
– Brockton’s Promise’s five teams (Healthy Start, Effective Education, Opportunities to Serve, Caring Adults & Safe Places) all meet here to strategically identify gaps in services provided to Brockton youth, and come up with collaborative and creative solutions to fill said gaps.
– The Stonehill College Service Immersion student leader team held their fall planning retreat at the DCCE this year

By providing a space for all the aforementioned activities to take place, it is natural that the community impact and capacity building efforts of each group are tripled simply due to the physical resources and leveraged college resources. We are creatively thinking about ways to more efficiently weave Stonehill staff, faculty and students into the work of the DCCE to truly co-create learning experiences and urban education for all stakeholders involved. My goal for the remainder of my VISTA year is to assist the college in getting the word out about the opportunities for growth and deep engagement at the center on campus and in Brockton, as well as to our local partner universities. MACC VISTA has provided me with a unique chance to work within my sphere of influence, to hold myself as an alum, and as a product of higher education accountable to my beliefs and what I hope colleges and universities move towards in terms of capacity building in the places we occupy and engage with.

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