The Alcy Ball Development Corporation (ABDC) is a ministry minded organization that emerged as a result of long-term relationships between Mission Memphis; 2PC volunteers; Repairing the Breach, a ministry directed to children in the Alcy Ball community; and Pastor Tony Wade of Divine Life Church. Pastor Wade facilitated the initial success by making many introductions and helping those from Second and the local leaders form relationships.
Alcy Ball Development Corporation develops a common platform where local leaders can gather to empower their neighbors. ABDC increases access to resources that facilitate the transition of leadership to the next generation of residents. This local leadership creates opportunities for families to thrive in the neighborhood through volunteer opportunities, healthy financial practices, affordable housing, and holistic involvement with the local church.
In 2016, the organization hired a new Executive Director, Chris Oliver and a new Program Director, Seth Harkins. Both are devoted followers of Christ and experienced in building cross-cultural relationships. Their prior work equipped them for the long perspective and dependence upon The Lord needed for this type of grassroots economic and social development. Chris was a Second Presbyterian Fellow in the 2009-10 Class.
Chris focuses on relationships with churches, organizations, and residents in the community, while Seth focuses on relationships with businesses, schools, and residents in the community.
The current Board consists of Apostle Tony Wade, Mr. A Thompson, Mr. Ethan Knight, and Mrs. Sharon Payne. The board members play an integral part in directing the organization; connecting with the Alcy Ball community; connecting with non-neighborhood resources; and realizing the vision of a renewed community.
In addition, many members of Second lend their professional skills, financial support, prayer support, volunteer support, and networking abilities to the ministry.
The mission of ABDC is to restore the prosperity and health of the Alcy Ball community through economic, social, and educational development. The vision for a healthy neighborhood realized through empowering local leaders depends upon relationships with the neighborhood’s established organizations and churches. The goal is to reach the community alongside the local churches, connecting participants to churches and leading to holistic change and care. Relationships have been built with these groups and those leading the organization have learned the strengths and needs of the community from listening and from conversations with residents and stakeholders.
The result is the identification of three strategic focus areas for programming: Financial Literacy and Education, Community Organizing and Advocacy, and Neighborhood Revitalization. As they work in these areas, they foster relationships with key individuals who can facilitate partnerships and multiply the leadership that will serve the neighborhood in years to come.
Financial Literacy Education
Since 2016, ABDC has focused on helping families learn financial practices and steward their income. They serve the area by offering Faith & Financesand in-home budget counseling – having 18 participants since inception. The Financial Literacy program is offered in collaboration with either local churches or other neighborhood organizations. In addition, three savings accounts have been opened; four families have increased their credit score and are paying off debt; and one family was helped as they purchased a home. The consistency in relationships is paying off through credibility in the neighborhood.
Community Organizing and Advocacy
Due to increased credibility in the neighborhood, stronger communication and trust has been gained with those living in Alcy Ball. Community organizing consists of supporting the community associations, as well as other grass roots organizations in the area. Additionally, ABDC organizes events in the community towards the development of the neighborhood such as meetings with the City of Memphis; meetings between business leaders; etc. As they pursue the principles of Christian Community Development, one goal is to create strong relationships between neighborhood leaders and resources outside the neighborhood such as Clean Memphis, Serve 901, MAM, Barnhart Crane & Rigging, local churches, and other companies and organizations. Neighbors have joined in Police Joint Association meetings. Residents are assisting the staff by gathering complaints against negligent property owners and attend hearings about specific properties. These activities are engaging more residents in the process of self-advocacy.
Examples of members of Second engaging with Alcy Ball include Steve Shular, Special Assistant to the City Mayor, as he runs the Police Joint Association meetings; and Kevin Stout, as he serves as a liaison with Barnhart Crane; has hired a local resident; and volunteers for community cleanups.
By starting small and involving neighborhood input, ABDC is developing a long term plan for neighborhood revitalization that will benefit residents without forcing them to relocate out of the neighborhood. This effort includes removing brush to make yards maintainable, boarding up abandoned houses, calling attention to major Code Enforcement infractions, moving endangered buildings toward demolition, and monitoring Environmental Court cases against delinquent owners.
ABDC is efficient at this work when it partners with others for the benefit of residents. For example, the staff supported the process for two longtime Alcy Ball homeowners to apply for Habitat for Humanity’s “Aging in Place” program by helping them attend meetings, fill out paperwork, and gather documentation for the application to repair their damaged roofs. ABDC’s ability to support this process led to other engaged community members, who are now advocating on behalf of their own neighbors for more services in the Alcy Ball area.
Connect with ABDC at www.alcyball.org.