start by thanking you for coming today, and for all the work you're doing to improve the lives of struggling Native American
families all across South Carolina No one knows better than you how many Native American Indian people have been left behind
in the wave of prosperity that reached so many in our country, and in South Carolina. I appreciate your commitment to creating
the opportunities that led residents to succeed in our communities.
I'd like to introduce you to something called "neighboring." Neighboring is a new way of looking at volunteering that's been
brought to us by, Chief Tim “Two Bears” LaBean and Richard “Iron Fist” LaBean and the MCDC Pee Dee
Indian Tribe, the”Red fox” clan. It’s a concept that I believe will make our work easier, more effective,
and better able to create lasting changes, especially in struggling Native American neighborhoods.
work, you may have experienced the disconnection that exists in tough communities. Without critical connections, low-income
Native American families can't access the resources and support they need to grow strong and healthy. What can we as an Native
American organization do to change that? We can help bridge gaps and provide the connections families need to thrive –
and neighboring is one way of doing this. People who live in low-income Native American communities need to be engaged in
meaningful ways that help them succeed on their own.
people and Native American Indians must be equal partners and drivers for change. And that's the heart of neighboring. It
involves building on the real assets of a community to create more tightly knit communities with residents who have the commitment
and capacity to better their lives. That's a tall order. How do we begin to do that? We can start by identifying and developing
leaders within our communities who can provide an insider's perspective.
will you find when you look closer and discover these leaders? You'll probably find that neighboring is already going on all
around the community. Though not called "volunteering," people are giving to each other and helping each other and applaud these informal ways people help each other out. We can learn a lot about the community from
we create the conditions to make getting involved in a more structured way easy and attractive for residents? A big part of
neighboring is finding ways to give community members some kind of benefit in exchange for volunteer work like child care,
a chance to learn job skills, or access to tutoring for their children. I wanted to mention these steps to give you an overall
view of how we might think about structuring neighboring initiatives.
to apply the neighboring concept to the programs our organization already has in place. Ask yourselves a few questions about
our current programs. How are they working to bring people together for the good of the community? Is there investment and
participation across the board in the community, not only from businesses, nonprofits and agencies? How are you creating the
conditions for community members to take leadership roles? Do our projects lend themselves to building skills that residents
need to help others as well as themselves?
be surprised to learn that there's actual proof that one of the best things we can do to improve people's lives is to provide
relevant opportunities to volunteer and find their own solutions to local issues. One recent study found that 69% of people
who volunteer as adults reported one or both of their parents had set an example by volunteering when they were young. Volunteering
– Neighboring – is a spirit that can be inherited. I urge you to build the wealth of our community through volunteering
and neighboring. That's a legacy of which we can be proud.