West Hope Zone Community Meetings
Cesar E Chavez Elementary
1205 Grandville Ave.
5:30 to 8:30 pm
August 4, 2011
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José Vasquez (pictured above) and his family attended LINC Community Revitalization's Believe 2 Become West Hope Zone planning meeting on Thursday. The meeting was the first of five neighborhood planning meetings to discuss improving children's literacy focused on high school graduation for all.
Vasquez's daughter, Diane, will start at Cesar E Chavez Elementary next year. He aims to provide her with the opportunities she needs to be successful in school.
"I came to get tips. How can I talk to [my kids]? How can I help them in school?" Vasquez asked. "How can I be a little bit better parent and that way, [we can] be a better family?"
The event kicked off with an outdoor performance by musical guest Grupo Akaray with dancer Laura Armenta. Then neighbors filed into the gym for tacos and cake, and enjoyed a live drumming performance, Grupo Tarasco, and the work of artist Erick Pichardo.
The energy in the room skyrocketed when LINC's bilingual Director of Neighborhood Services Ana Doonan and Eureka Smith of the National Community Development Institute took the stage. They led a round of applause for the children in the room, distributed door prizes, encouraged everyone to high five one another, and chanted the Believe 2 Become motto in Spanish and English.
Believe 2 Become Nitty Gritty
The Believe 2 Become initiative is based on three main ideas: all children have unlimited potential, our community expects great things from them, and we must create real opportunity for our children to graduate from high school and college to prepare them for viable careers.
"It's a movement to save our children," said Edwin Hernandez of the Douglas & Maria Devos Foundation.
"All kids here have the potential to graduate," said City High School graduate Rafael Martinez during the meeting. "Let's make a difference!"
And the first step to making a difference, according to the Believe 2 Become plan, is to listen to community voices of parents, kids, teachers, and educators.
Jose Vasquez and His Neighbors Plan for the Future of their Children
The packed cafeteria split off into small groups to discuss the following question: "What's keeping our children from achieving academic success?"
One of the groups discussed the need for English and Spanish education for parents; another group discussed topics like gang violence, drugs and the lack of positive after-school activities for children.
After the initial community planning meetings, parents and community members will work on action planning to solve some of the issues that arose in the small groups on Thursday. When everything comes together, the community will decide on a master action plan to improve children's literacy in the West Hope Zone.
See What It's All About
The next community planning meeting will be held on August 4 from 5:30 to 8:30 pm at Cesar E Chavez Elementary School. All West Hope Zone residents and service providers are invited to attend.
Bringing about a just and vibrant West Michigan through the power of literacy.