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Neighborhood Prosperity Initiative (NPI)
Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2013
As one of the first students interested and involved in this community experience, I can say that this project has had a huge influence on my life. Arriving at Santa Clara I had some experience with community service, but I vaguely understood the concept or purpose besides credit hours and a pat on the back. Having the opportunity to work with a group of committed, passionate students and a fantastic advisor to form an ongoing partnership with the Washington-Alma community changed all that.
My name is Sebastian Feye and I am a Senior Finance major at SCU. I started NPI as a sophomore having no idea what I was getting into, but to be fair no one else did either. We started by visiting the district, meeting with local businesses and city representative, Paul Periera. We found that the city needed help documenting and surveying the small local businesses. Me and a few other students walked the streets of Washington, documenting abandoned properties and interviewing business owners. From this we created two databases to present to the city of San Jose. In addition to this, we began getting involved in the local school, Washington Elementary and the main library in Washington-Alma.
Colibiri performers at Washington-Alma Biblioteca Latinoamericana
We quickly realized that there were so many possibilities and opportunities to help this community. So we started visiting the elementary school more often, hosting events, picking up trash, tutoring children and listening to the stories of mothers and children as they told us about their struggles and triumphs. The interviews that I conducted were some of the most powerful and inspiring stories. For example a man named Brett, adopted three African teenagers and deals with a 1 ½ year old at the same time, while another mom has 7 children, 2 adopted and works with her kids everyday so that they are the top of the class. This kind of determination and inner strength tells me that no challenge is to great for the people of the Washington District.
Fast forward to this year and I am now building the foundation for a new club on campus called the NPI Student Association, which will allow students to participate in the mission of NPI without needing to be in the class. The club will be focused on volunteer activities in the community such as helping with fundraisers, hosting resume building workshops and hopefully a college major fair.
In addition, next quarter there will be an exciting new class/competition working directly with the local businesses to renovate and redesign their business with grant money from Wells Fargo. By working with students from the Center for Employment training and local businesses, students will have the opportunity to truly add value to the local community. If interested in further information please check out BUSN 198.
Washington Alma District community, our main focus is South 1st St. and Willow.