Sunday, September 26, 2010

11th Virginia Statewide Neighborhood Conference

Mayor David Bowers checks in

Neighborhood Treasures: Capitalizing On Our Assets

It was hustle and bustle in the weeks leading up to Roanoke hosting the statewide neighborhood conference for the first time. The three-day conference began registration on Thursday at the Hotel Roanoke and Conference Center.

There were 240 registrants. They included hefty youth participation – the future neighborhood leaders. Senator Mark Warner and Governor Bob McDonnell were among the dignitaries sending letters recognizing Roanoke’s neighborhood pride. McDonnell in his letter stated that he “was committed to strengthening and empowering local neighborhoods.”

Estelle McCadden as chair of the planning committee echoed the same theme. McCadden said, “It is not enough to ask our government officials to sanction our conference. We must also continue to seek their counsel and their ability to provide the tools necessary to continually improve the quality of life our neighborhoods so desperately crave.”

Roanoke City contributed $10,000, Wachovia $5,000, Member One Federal Credit Union and Virginia Hosing and Development Authority each contributed $2,500. Many more contributors made up the list.

Friday was the big day with exhibitors and breakout sessions. Sessions ran the gamut from neighborhood leadership training and how to have effective meetings to tenant-landlord relations, diversity, homelessness, community gardening and going green.

Youth sessions and activities included setting career goals, team building and a mystery dinner at William Fleming High School. The Youth Café guest presenters were Mahalia Dryden-Mason, a consumer education coordinator and fair housing training specialist and Damon Williams, First Citizens Bank Regional Community Development Officer.

Nikki Giovanni, poet, writer, commentator, outspoken activist and educator was Saturday’s closing keynote speaker.

Friday’s neighborhood tours were a highlight of the event. Bev Fitzpatrick arranged the use of four buses from Commonwealth Coach and Trolley to ferry conference attendees. The buses fanned out to all quadrants of the city. Each bus was full of inquisitive neighbors from every corner of the state. After a whirlwind tour each group was treated to a dinner supplied by the participating neighborhoods then off they went to visit the Roanoke Star. They finished the day at the Mayor’s reception at the O. Winston Link Museum.

The Old Southwest neighborhood won Organization of the Year at Saturday’s award presentations. OSW won Best Neighborhood of the Year at the annual 2010 Neighborhoods USA conference held in Little Rock, Arkansas for its annual Holiday Parlor Tour of Homes entry.

Posted By Valerie Garner

Categories: Community, Local Events

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Comments (4)

Jeff Campbell

September 26th, 2010 at 11:54 PM    

Hi Valerie, thanks for the story !! The conference was great, and alot of valueable information was shared with participants from across the state… Thanks again !!!


September 27th, 2010 at 12:32 AM    

You’re welcome, Jeff. It was exhausting as you know but so well worth it. My favorite part was the bus tour. They all seemed to enjoy getting out. It was so nice of Bev to arrange the buses.

Shirley Harris

October 14th, 2010 at 1:02 PM    

Great Story!! Thanks for all your help and for being so supportive and cooperative during the planning and implementation of the NW Neighborhood Bus Tour. We were a great team. Thanks again.

Bob Clement

October 15th, 2010 at 12:01 PM    

My thanks to you and the Star Sentinel for running the story on the Virginia Statewide Neighborhood Conference for it was definitely a rewarding experience for those who attended and volunteered to help make it happen and a missed opportunity for those who chose not to participate. Thanks again for your support.

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