(Plain Press, August 2015) In 2006, the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Foundation, along with former Cleveland Mayor Michael White, established a leadership-training program for neighborhood leaders. The Neighborhood Leadership Development Program is a free, 15 session community engagement training program for residents of Cleveland, and its inner ring suburbs, who are working on projects within the City of Cleveland and are determined to make a positive impact on their communities.
After the application process, 20 committed individuals are chosen for the program year. NLDP participants and graduates have many interests and are working on a wide variety of issues to improve life in their communities.
Gordon Martin, a Stockyard resident and a pastor, is one such graduate. He founded Prince of Peace Outreach and Deliverance Ministries, located at 48th Street and Denison. Prince of Peace houses clothing, furniture and appliance banks. It also has a computer lab to teach computer literacy and typing. They assist over 400 families by distributing over 15,000 pounds of vegetables every two weeks.
Martin says that his calling is “about people.” “The purpose of establishing this church was to get people together and have them make decisions about their quality of life” he said.
Gardening is a major project for the church and community, as well as, creating a neighborhood space so inviting that people would enjoy just being there. That space is at Storer and West 55th Place. It is a colorful place where they gather for meetings, birthday parties and weddings. They also show summer movies for residents. The project has attracted volunteers from other areas such as Wickliffe, Cleveland Heights and Green Springs, Ohio.
Martin started his new ministry by himself but needed help. He says he came to NLDP for leadership training so that he could become a better leader as he founded his church and community programs.
“NLDP taught me to have courage and keep moving forward. It was very uplifting and gave me the extra confidence I needed. It showed me how to believe in myself,” said Martin. “Now, we are fulfilling our mission of bringing people together as a community.
Gordon has also found the NLDP graduate network to be helpful to his mission. He has partnered with NLDP graduate, Diane Morgan, founder of Maggie’s Farm, also in the Stockyards neighborhood. The farm provides produce to a variety of programs in the community, including Martin’s program. Morgan has several properties with various projects. One such property on West 61st was acquired through the Land Bank. There, she is running a “Let’s Grow Summer Youth Program” with youth from Youth Opportunities Unlimited working with Maggie’s Farm, and loaned to this project.
The youth, along with receiving leadership training, will be putting in a pumpkin patch, native pollinators to attract bees and butterflies and benches and scarecrows. They will help build a plastic bottle greenhouse with 1500 bottles. The Jewish Volunteer Network brought in 25 to 40 families in July to help prep the greenhouse.
Morgan says, “The Neighborhood Leadership Development Program gave me the confidence to believe I could accomplish all of this; they taught me how to focus and prioritize things. I learned how to handle issues and conflict and a lot more about myself and what areas of leadership I needed to work on.”
The 15 sessions take place on Saturdays at Trinity Commons at 2230 Euclid Avenue beginning August 29. The deadline for applications is AUGUST 5. For more information and an application, visit www.nldpcleveland.com or call 216-776-6172.