ALDINE – The auditorium in Hambrick Middle School was filled to capacity last Thursday night, as the Aldine community heard a presentation from Neighborhood Centers Inc. on their completed study “VOICES FORUM”.
The material presented, in the form of dialogue from speakers and members of the community that were interviewed by NCI staff, presented a picture of the needs and desires of the East Aldine community that will be the focus of servies offered by the Neighborhood Centers, according to the opening speech made by Angela Blanchard, CEO of NCI.
Over 100 people from Aldine were interviewed and recorded in the process, according to Jose Rivera who led the sessions.
Emcees for the evening were NCI’s Carlos Paz, and MacArthur Homecoming Queen Bianca Hampton.
Blanchard said that NCI only goes where it is asked, but the Aldine project is well underway. She said that $1 million has been pledged from one donor, and two others have offered a total of $5 million. The project NCI proposes is a 20,000 square foot community center, with social services, business incubator, workforce services, financial services, and much more. She said the total project will cost about $20 million.
The Voices Forum found these strengths in Aldine:
1. Hardworking individuals who value their independence.
2. An education system that the community is proud of, and connects with the people.
3. People who are likely to stay in Aldine because it is home and they feel like they belong there.
These points were presented in talks, in a video presentation, and with printed materials.
The speakers each presented their viewpoints on the Aldine community, and their interest and belief in the future of the district.
There were a number of touching highlights to the program, including an opening choral number by the Hambrick Choir, and a welcome from principal Rebecca Hoyt.
State Representative Armando Walle, who is a resident of Aldine, and attended Hambrick MS and MacArthur High School, summed up the evening with a moving talk, about why he ran for office. He said that his main motivation was to see how he could help improve his community, and now he felt that the NCI proposal was “Transformative” and that everyone in the room, in fact in the community, would benefit. “This is it” he said, referring to why he ran for office, and how he could help Aldine. “This is a great foundation for everyone in this room.”
He ended with a passionate “I love this community.”
Neighborhood Centers is the largest community develoopment organization in the region that helps low-income families in emerging neighborhoods get a foothold in Houston’s booming economy.
With more than 100 years of experience and history, NCI knows what really works. Working side by side with community members, NCI discovers their strengths, craft a collective vision and design a plan to make their aspirations a reality. NCI does this by asking the right questions. They listen. And they harness the power of leaders already found in the community. Together, they create relevant solutions that matter for our neighbors — that give them access to regional opportunities. “Simply put, we build upon what works.”