ValpoNEXT Coordinator Kathy Sipple speaks with Jeff Lewis, a member of the Executive Board and leader of the monthly Equity and Inclusion Community meetings. Lewis discusses the Equity and Inclusion Community Action Committee in depth. Some of its initiatives include “engaging our citizens” and “embracing our diversity,” which has translated to pushes for affordable housing and publicizing social services in Valparaiso. Diverse community members are asked to attend meetings if interested in order to bring together a wide variety of voices on each topic.
The Equity and Inclusion group’s connections to Valparaiso’s Advisory Human Relations Council are explained in depth. Lewis then goes on to discuss Project Neighbors, of which he is the acting president. This organization has formed several spin-offs to provide housing for vulnerable individuals, childcare, healthcare, and a variety of other services. Finally, they “call out” several individuals who have been active in the Equity and Inclusion community action committee, discussing their roles in the community and how they bring their own skills to help ValpoNEXT (as an example of how every volunteer is a tool for good).
Links referenced: Human Relations Council
- Jeff Lewis is serving as both the Equity and Inclusion Community Action Committee leader and as the treasurer for the ValpoNEXT executive board.
- ValpoNEXT Vision Plan
- Nine different initiatives were identified with multiple sub-topics.
- Equity and Inclusion
- Continuing the great energy developed over the course of the ValpoNEXT planning stage.
- Initiatives 1) Engaging our Citizens, and 3) Embracing our Diversity.
- Civic engagement, affordable housing and shelter.
- Identify social services available in Valparaiso.
- Conversation regarding living wage law.
- Making sure everyone in the community is equally represented and has a voice to promote their needs.
- Follow Us
- Extension of the Human Relations Council
- Eyes and ears out in the community.
- Encourage everyone to attend monthly HRC meetings.
- Support the work of the HRC and work to lift up the voice of the community.
- Diagram of how ValpoNEXT is supposed to work
- Lewis is the president of Project Neighbors
- Provides housing to marginalized members of the community.
- Project Neighbors spin-off projects
- Project Neighbors also started the Hilltop Neighborhood House, which is a successful daycare
- Project Neighbors founded a Hilltop Clinic which has become the HealthLinc Community Health Center.
- Project Neighbors started the radio station WVLP, where community members play their favorite music and discuss important issues in Valparaiso.
- Valparaiso Advisory Human Relations Council
- Recommends best practices to both the mayor and the City Council.
- Positive people who attend meetings of this board.
- Looking for more diverse perspectives on these topics.
- Many people arguing for the same things; Lewis desires debate in order to work through a diverse cross section of opinions.