Neighboring had the promise to build community and to strengthen families yet not much was known about it except through anecdotal evidence. HandsOn Network did a study of neighboring programs and found that the benefits reached beyond the programs.
Neighboring helps children and youth succeed by providing opportunities, resources, and role models necessary to become successful adults.
Neighboring generates opportunities. Through programs that nurture through neighborhood-based caring connections, opportunities for children and youth expand. Neighboring programs help to build an extended community that provides resources and opportunities that might not be available in the community.
Neighbors helping neighborhood children
- Serving as tutors, mentors, and readers
- Providing meals, books, and child care assistance
- Assembling and donating small gifts
- Conducting workshops on healthy lifestyles and community issues
- Ensuring safe spaces for children to freely play and grow
Neighboring links resources and children. Resources travel by way of parents and guardians, with benefits spilling over to children. Parents who get the resources to support their children, and this frees up resources to assist with things they need at home.
Neighboring creates role models for children. Children see caring and kindness modeled when neighbors provide service. More importantly, when volunteers are people that children realate to, the notion of “helping ourselves” becomes more possible, imbuing self-reliance.
Neighboring changes the lines of accountability. The accountability to children in Neighboring is different than a traditional social service model. Parents and neighbors have a personal stake.
Neighboring helps to improve the quality of the places in which the nation’s most vulnerable children and families live.
Neighboring gives power. Shaping the community agenda heightens individuals’ desire to engage and their self-efficacy.
Neighboring connects neighbors. By joining people in collective action, Neighboring helps people realize that they are not alone and their neighbors care and want success for everybody.
Neighboring helps to provide low-income workers with the supports they need to get and keep good jobs and to build assets and savings.
Neighboring connects people with necessary resources. Through tax assistance programs, low-income people receive real resources. Resident volunteers involved in tax preparation tended to view it as not just a service but a re-education in how people think about getting their taxes done.
Neighboring builds financial skills and knowledge. Through the tax programs, resident volunteers gain knowledge of taxes that affect their own lives.
Neighboring helps promote workforce participation through job creation and skill development.
Neighboring indirectly affects workforce participation. Beneficiary knowledge, changed through more traditional areas of education, is also imparted by resident volunteers. There are also instances when resident volunteers are offered employment as a result of their volunteering, especially volunteer tax preparers.
Have you run a neighboring program? What kind of impacts have you seen with your program? Let us know in the comments!
For more information on neighboring, visit the HandsOn Network Neighboring Site in the Tools and Resources Section.