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Sample Speech

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  • 1. Sample Speech Let me start by thanking you for coming today, and for all the work you're doing to improve the lives of struggling families [all across America]. No one knows better than you how many people have been left behind in the wave of prosperity that reached so many in our country in the 1990s. I appreciate your commitment to creating the opportunities that led residents to succeed in our communities. Today, I'd like to introduce you to something called quot;neighboring.quot; Neighboring is a new way of looking at volunteering that's been brought to us by the Points of Light Foundation and The Annie E. Casey Foundation. It's a concept that I believe will make our work easier, more effective, and better able to create lasting changes, especially in struggling neighborhoods. In your work, you may have experienced the disconnection that exists in tough communities. Without critical connections, low-income families can't access the resources and support they need to grow strong and healthy. What can we as an organization [community]do to change that? We can help bridge gaps and provide the connections families need to thrive – and neighboring is one way of doing this. People who live in low-income communities need to be engaged in meaningful ways that help them succeed on their own. Local people must be equal partners and drivers for change. And that's the heart of neighboring. It involves building on the real assets of a community to create more tightly knit communities with residents who have the commitment and capacity to better their lives. That's a tall order. How do we begin to do that? We can start by identifying and developing leaders within our communities who can provide an insider's perspective. What will you find when you look closer and discover these leaders? You'll probably find that neighboring is already going on all around the community. Though not called quot;volunteering,quot; people are giving to each other and helping each other and applaud these informal ways people help each other out. We can learn a lot about the community from this. How can we create the conditions to make getting involved in a more structured way easy and attractive for residents? A big part of neighboring is finding ways to give community members some kind of benefit in exchange for volunteer work like child care, a chance to learn job skills, or access to tutoring for their children. I wanted to mention these steps to give you an overall view of how we might think about structuring neighboring initiatives. I'm anxious to apply the neighboring concept to the programs our organization already has in place. Ask yourselves a few questions about our current programs. How are they working to bring people together for the good of the community? Is there investment and participation across the board in the community, not only from businesses, nonprofits and agencies? How are you creating the conditions for community members to take leadership roles? Do our projects lend themselves to building skills that residents need to help others as well as themselves? The Points of Light Foundation has a Web site that makes it easy for us to get started in building and strengthening neighboring programs. Visit www.PointsofLight.org [or add a link to your organization's Web site] today to find ideas for one-day projects, ongoing programs, building partnerships with community members, and much more. You might be surprised to learn that there's actual proof that one of the best things we can do to improve people's lives is to provide relevant opportunities to volunteer and find their own
  • 2. solutions to local issues. One recent study found that 69% of people who volunteer as adults reported one or both of their parents had set an example by volunteering when they were young. Volunteering – Neighboring – is a spirit that can be inherited. I urge you to build the wealth of our community through volunteering and neighboring. That's a legacy of which we can be proud.