Blog Entry Youth Development

CBMA September SBV Spotlight: Reginald Johnson

For September, CBMA focused its September Skills-Based Volunteer (SBV) spotlight on the Willowbrook Inclusion Network (WIN), which is based out of Los Angeles, CA. WIN’s mission is to secure a dynamic and sustainable future for the Willowbrook community and its individual members through youth development, job readiness, and civic engagement. CBMA spoke with WIN’s Executive Director Reginald Johnson to learn more about their involvement and experience with the SBV program.

 

What motivated you to participate in the skills-based volunteer program?

Reginald: As our community has seen multiple investments over $500 million being made in Willowbrook, CA. (between Watts and Compton) as stakeholders we want to have an active role in outreach, planning and implementation. We look to develop programming with an emphasis on sustainability. Our youth and connecting cities of Watts and Compton deserve to benefit from any and all enhancements that will advance quality of life.

The most essential way to continuously and progressively grow our community was to form a Non-profit / For- Purpose Community Planning & Workforce Development Social Enterprise with an Asset Based Community Development approach, as we continue to build strategic partnerships to accomplish our mission and vision.

Our community begins at the starting point of Martin Luther King Jr. Hospital and Medical Campus, Charles Drew Medical Magnet High School, George Washington Carver Elementary, Roy Roberts Watts-Willowbrook Boys and Girls Club, Ervin “Magic” Johnson Regional Park and Barack Obama Charter School all Black Males of Achievement. Our objective is to uplift the advancement of our own communities specifically, Boys and Men of Color. Currently, our Annual Community Family Reunion has kept community members engaged and educated on ways to strengthen social bonds among residents, increase economic growth and improve infrastructure through building leadership, advocacy and social services.

We want to be innovative, in terms of our approach and implementation of programming and advocacy in our communities. The range of expertise we currently have and plan to adapt in building capacity of residents having a meaningful and measurable impact is astronomical.

Community supported agriculture will introduce the progressions of co-op businesses and tangible success models. Thus, creating a need for local economic development and job readiness programs. Support from local government will be instrumental. WIN will create a pipeline through civic engagement. 

 

What has been your experience thus far with skills-based volunteering?

Reginald: The time and energy spent on all sides providing this resource has been well worth it. I’m new to this type platform of capacity building and was somewhat skeptical of the outcomes but, after being matched with a former a Pep Boys executive and current MBA professor that had so much intent to provide his expertise we will continue to work together on our next project. I recently received notification that someone from Google is interested in supporting one of our project also. We will continue to take full advantage of this resource and encourage others to do the same. The Catchafire team has been very responsive to any questions or concerns of our organization or the volunteer during the process.

 

Do you foresee any long-term benefits from the skills-based volunteer program?

Reginald: I can see that along this journey to develop an online community of skilled volunteers to build the capacities of startups and smaller organizations to address the disparities of Black and Brown Males. This will be a tool for communities to exchange multi-generational knowledge to build curriculum that can guide dialogue, ideas that develop into action. This may very well be the tool that can collectively have the most impact nationwide in the field of Black Male Achievement.

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