It’s one of our greatest honors at the Lupton Center, the training and consulting division of Focused Community Strategies, to be able to share our hard-won knowledge with other organizations who are seeking to help their communities flourish. One of those partnerships happened with HOTEL INC, an organization that envisions Bowling Green, Kentucky as a place where each person is valued and has an equal opportunity to thrive.
Alan Casada, the Director of Operations at HOTEL INC, shares about his team’s alignment before working with the Lupton Center. He says the team wasn’t necessarily as integrated as they would like. “We had not reached where we wanted to be,” says Alan. “We began switching our approach when Covid happened, and we were trying different things for 6-8 months.” One thing that unified the team, Alan says, was the desire to work with people in a holistic way. Though they typically provide housing assistance, they understood that the barriers faced by their clients went much deeper than that.
You may recall that Bowling Green hosted our first-ever City Shapers cohort, and HOTEL INC played a leading role in bringing together a diverse, cross-sector of neighbors, community leaders and other key stakeholders to take part in the two-year process.
As they continue to work with neighbors, the HOTEL INC team decided to go a bit deeper and learn concrete ways to build connections through a multi-day, brass-tacks journey into what we call holistic community engagement.
The Lupton Center led Alan and the Hotel, Inc. team through FCS’ theory and practice of holistic community engagement. One of the first assignments the team was tasked with was to determine their own vision, mission, and values for holistic community engagement.
Alan says the process kickstarted in the workshop is continuing to this day. He and fellow teammates began defining the terms during the webinar, and have continued meeting weekly as a team to refine their mission, vision, and values for holistic community engagement. The second phase is to align with our neighbors by co-creating a shared vision for the future. It is through this iterative process that the HOTEL INC team began to uncover layers of unique complexities faced by their neighbors.
As they learned from the neighborhood, the power of the holistic engagement approach is this process of uncovering. It’s here that folks are able to see why previous strategies may not have worked. Looking at neighbors as agents of their own change is a powerful shift away from many previous thought processes.
In order to truly learn and grow from the Lupton Center’s model, Alan says it’s important for teams to approach the process by letting go of their own expectations and being ready to explore new areas of growth.
“If teams are willing to take it to heart, they can really grow,” he says.
If you and your team are interested in diving into strategies we’ve developed and implemented at the Lupton Center (the training and consulting arm of Focused Community Strategies), we’d love to connect. We offer bespoke resources, including training and webinars, to help share the knowledge we’ve gained over 40+ years serving in under-resourced neighborhoods. Reach out to see how we might partner with you.