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35 Community Leaders Collaborate with SCU and SJSU to Empower the Greater Washington Community

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This Tuesday, on August 13, 2013, we partnered with Santa Clara University (SCU) to host our first collective meeting with the Greater Washington community. We invited community-based organizations to share the major themes and interests of the Greater Washington neighborhood. The meeting generated non-stop conversation about the neighborhood’s assets and needs among the thirty-five community leaders in attendance.

We kicked off the meeting with Laurie Laird, the Director of Community-Based Learning at Ignatian Center for Jesuit Education at SCU and Board President of the Sacred Heart Community Service Agency. Laurie welcomed the community members and introduced an overview of the progress and goals of Santa Clara University’s partnership with the Greater Washington Community Assessment.

Community safety and quality of life are common themes shared at the meeting with the Washington community. Pictured here (L-R): Laurie Laird, Director of Community-based Learning, Ignatian Center for Jesuit Education, Santa Clara University & Board Member, Sacred Heart Community Service Agency; Laura Macias, President of Sacred Heart Nativity School; Chuck Darrah, Chair of Anthropology Department at SJSU; Edita Cruz, Executive Director, Martha’s Kitchen; Fr. Walter Suarez, Sacred Heart Parish; Angel Ibanez, Sacred Heart Community Service Agency. Photo credits to Yan Yin Choy.

Then our Executive Director Dayana Salazar explained how San José State University (SJSU) and CommUniverCity San José would bring a new focus to the project by including an Urban & Regional Planning (URBP) class to study and learn from the neighborhood and identify ways that SCU and SJSU can collaborate to address the needs of the community.  The project will also be engaging SJSU Anthropology students under the guidance of Professor Chuck Darrah, and SCU students through Jackie Schmidt-Posner, Professor of Practice and Director of Neighborhood Prosperity Initiative with SCU School of Business.





Donna Stewart of Alma Community Center and Executive Director of Community United, and Richard Zapelli of the Willow Glen Neighborhood Association, identify strengths and assets in the Washington community. Photo credits to Yan Yin Choy.

Our Community Director Imelda Rodriguez asked the community members and leaders to identify major themes of the neighborhood’s needs, which the collaboration would address. Participants identified the following major themes that need to be improved in the Washington neighborhood:


Maria Marcelo of the Goodyear Mastic Neighborhood Association discusses the issues of public safety in the community.                                   
Pictured here (L-R): Mark Lopez, Manager of Washington United Youth Center; Maria Marcelo, Goodyear Mastic Neighborhood Association; Donna Stewart, Executive Director of Community United San Jose; Omar Torres, Executive Director of Santa Maria Urban Ministry. Photo credits to Yan Yin Choy.

When Imelda asked them to identify their community’s strengths, they shared the following assets:

Debbi Wade of the Gardner Neighborhood Association, Mayra Flores de Marcotte of the Greater Gardner Coalition, and Kevin Christman of the Gardner Neighborhood Association debrief after the meeting. Photo credits to Yan Yin Choy.

Finally, Irene Cermeño, SCU’s Thriving Neighborhoods Program Director, closed by announcing future opportunities to give input and interact with the project team, which include:






We are excited for our partnership with SCU’s project team.

Together, we can work towards empowering our community members and leaders to build social capital with our community’s assets and address the major issues that impact our neighborhoods.

In Service,
Greg Currey and Yan Yin Choy

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