By Lati Horton
AmeriCorps VISTA Community Ambassador
I joined the BikeWalkKC team through the AmeriCorps VISTA program in January of this year. I am excited to be a part of such an inspiring organization, and I’ve had the opportunity to learn a great deal about aspects of the built environment thus far. During my first couple of weeks, I trained by reading, researching neighborhoods, and shadowing our policy manager, Michael Kelley, in meetings. Soon after, I started attending neighborhood meetings on my own, mostly to observe and gain a better understanding for how these groups functioned and what their most pressing issues were.
In late February/early March I finally started to get the feel of my new job: tag along to a couple meetings with Michael throughout the week and then leave the office relatively early so I could attend the neighborhood association meeting that was going on that night. It was fun and exciting going to different parts of Kansas City to meet new people and hear them all come together with the common goal of making their community the best they can.
Unfortunately, as soon as everything started to become familiar, the COVID-19 pandemic emerged. I’ve been working from home since the 12th of March and every day has its ups and downs. The biggest challenge I’ve faced while working from home (besides deciding which sweater to wear in the Zoom meetings!) is trying to find a way to communicate with the various community stakeholders I had begun to establish a rapport with. I’ve had to get creative, considering I was still in the process of meeting and building relationships with some of these groups.
Overall, this was mainly a challenge because a lot of neighborhood emails are outdated or just not monitored regularly. So, I decided to go the unorthodox route and message them on Facebook, which actually proved to be successful. Next, I decided to be annoying and call a couple of them, which actually worked out so well that I ended up talking to one group president for over an hour.
Working from home is definitely a new experience, but so far it hasn’t been anything I cannot handle. When this is all over, I look forward to getting back out to the neighborhood meetings and learning how we can continue to help and develop this city.
Thank you for your support. Similar to many non-profits and small businesses, BikeWalkKC’s financial sustainability has been threatened by the COVID-19 outbreak. If you are able to, please consider making a donation or purchasing a membership for yourself, your household, or your organization. Any amount helps, and we appreciate your support at this difficult time.