A medical scheduler at Ohio State University with two small children, Lakeisha Terry was barely a month inside her new Homeport home in Milo-Grogan when she was asked to host the U.S. Secretary for Housing and Urban Development.
Terry said yes, and no sooner had Dr. Ben Carson visited in September did she accept another challenge: traveling with Homeport staff and two other Homeport residents to the Community Leadership Institute held by NeighborWorks America in Houston, Texas.
“Houston really taught me a lot about myself, and I think that was the most important thing. In order for me to be able to help my community, I first need to know what my capabilities are,” said Terry, 23.
Joining her on the trip was fellow Northeast Columbus residents Deja Lindsey and LaToya Penick.
“If we come together, we can make a difference in Milo and Linden,” said Penick, who like Terry is living in one of the 33 new homes recently built by Homeport in Milo-Grogan as part of a neighborhood revitalization.
Penick, a stay at home Mom with children ages 1 to 13, said success of what was learned will be determined by how often residents come together, whether it is an ice cream social or picking up litter. Programming involving children could motivate adult participation, she speculated.
Deja Lindsey, a resident of the Maplegreen Homes lease to own properties, and a case manager for Columbus Area Integrated Health Services, said creating community is a passion and that she is eager to see what can come from her trip to Houston.
“I feel like it was meant for us to be there. It was a great learning experience,” Lindsey said. “It was a good experience to meet people from all over.”
Homeport is a charter member of NeighborWorks and annually brings residents of its communities to the NeighborWorks leadership training conferences.
This year’s Homeport staff participants were Manager of Service Coordination Lawrence Furst II, Service Coordinator Mark Childs and Asset Manager Josh Martin. The conference, Oct. 11-14, was attended by roughly 1,000 individuals nationally.
“It was great to see community advocates share ideas about different challenges faced throughout the country,” Martin said.
“Through our participation of the conference with our residents we are supporting, empowering and enriching their lives and communities,” Furst said.
Milo-Grogan resident Terry said the conference taught her that creating “community” and making a difference can take patience.
“There was a saying that really stood out to me in one of my classes, and that was, ‘Start small, think long-term.’
“I'm a bit of an over thinker and that saying helped put my mind at ease, reassuring me that even something as small as keeping trash picked up in my community can make a long-term affect.
“Over the next year my goal is to learn more about my community and the people that live there. During that process I will be able to work with Homeport on different events and ideas that would be beneficial for the community,” Terry said.