Neighbor of the Month: Community Healing through Relationship
What started as a practice in her home has deepened to the neighborhood level, and she's got positive things to say about the power of open arms.
This month we are recognizing Southside resident, Lindsay Shores, as our Neighbor of the Month. Lindsay is married to David Alan Shores. Together they are raising seven kids, five of whom were adopted, in Louisville’s South End where they have lived since 2004. She is the Youth Services Coordinator at Hope Place.
What do you love about your neighborhood?
What initially attracted us to the neighborhood was the diversity and the fact that we could easily walk to places. After growing up in a more rural area, Southside and adjoining Beechmont just feel like community. On my walk to work, it is common for me to be greeted by neighbors who are originally from America, Cambodia, Cuba, Vietnam, Nepal, Morocco, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia, and Iraq--and I only walk a couple of blocks! My kids attend school locally with other kids on our block. We have a great coffee shop and restaurants that serve food from around the world! We can easily buy spices to season the food from our kids' native countries at the African stores in the area. When my daughter's first family in the Democratic Republic of the Congo calls, I can send her running down the street with my cell phone to Congolese friends who can translate for her! While we often have extra neighborhood kids at our table, it's not unusual for my kids to call from a friend's house and ask to stay because they have been invited to join them for dinner. Healthy community is a beautiful thing - and to us, it is priceless.
How and why did you get involved in your community?
My husband and I initially moved to Southside so that we could serve refugees. In those first days, we helped them get to stores or doctor appointments, taught English and Citizenship (my husband is a middle school social studies teacher), or assisted with piles of paperwork. After our first adoption (when we went from two children to five overnight), it became clear that I couldn't minister to our friends in the way I previously had. There was a steep learning curve for me as I began to cook, clean, and educate all of our people in our home. I [started to think that if I didn’t grow a strong community inside my home first,] it wasn’t going to grow outside.
And to my surprise, that's what has happened! As my children grew, their friends began hanging out at our home. For the most part, we have an open-door policy at our house, and dinner and homework help is often provided.
In 2015, shortly after we adopted a child who had a significant trauma diagnosis, 15-year-old Le Truong was killed on our street in a shooting. We, along with our neighbors, were both heartbroken and livid that such a tragedy could occur to people we know and love in our own neighborhood. We also found that it was difficult to get the help we needed at the ground level. Navigating the systems to simply provide counseling for the traumatized kids on our block was so difficult that I [finally] reached out to trauma counselors I know personally and asked them to prepare me with some basic understanding how to 1) help the neighborhood kids process this situation and 2) watch for unhealthy signs in their behavior. My husband began a backyard Boy's Science Club where they performed a new experiment each week. The real purpose, though, was to regularly check in with the boys in our community who knew both Le and Le's shooter, and gauge their emotional health. Through all of this, I met my current boss, Hope Place Director Kristy Robison, and local yoga teacher Jodie Tingle-Willis. And I was also inspired to see my long-time neighbor Ryane Puckett begin to work in the realm of local government.
What have you been working on recently in your neighborhood?
When Hope Place opened in April 2018 and Kristy Robison was hired as Director, I was eventually employed to oversee what has now become our after-school program. What we had begun to do in our backyard as a family has been brought down the street and has now grown to fill out the entire basement of the Hope Place building!
As the Youth Services Coordinator, I love connecting with local schools, planning special events for the community, and overseeing the Hope Place After-School Program (HPASS) Monday-Friday from 4-6 PM. We specifically focus on trauma-informed care, so kids who are enrolled learn to process their trauma through art, music, recreation, dance, and mindfulness. We also connect them with mentors if we find they need lay-counseling, or with therapists if they have larger struggles. A Dare-to-Care meal is served from 4:40-5:00 PM each evening to anyone under 18 who shows up.
Beyond our youth services, Hope Place offers ESL classes, citizenship classes, equine therapy, and operates a women-only gym. We also support a group of female refugees who create boutique handcrafts known as the Maya Collection. Healing happens through relationship - we want to see kids learn to form strong, healthy relationships with their families and other caring adults, and we are here to support families on this journey.
What are your hopes for the future of Southside?
I'm an idealist. This can be a bit of a blessing and a curse!
I envision a neighborhood in which people understand one another and appreciate both their differences and their commonalities. I envision a community where we use everyone's gifts to benefit the whole, and when people don't yet know what their gifts are, others help them discover what they have to contribute. I want to see schools, businesses, government offices, churches, and other local organizations connected for the betterment of the entire community. There are so many hurting people in our midst (not just in Southside, but everywhere, unfortunately). I want to see these people experience true healing in their lives in order to overcome their trauma instead of pass it on to the next generation. So many of the negative issues that are visible on our neighborhood streets are really symptoms of underlying, unacknowledged, and unaddressed trauma.
When I attempt to be more realistic, and I accept that I am limited, I want to simply love God and love others as I go through my day. But that's truly what it takes to see real community change: people simply living their normal lives but with their neighbors’ welfare in mind. As we've watched individuals on our own block embrace this mentality in their own unique ways, we really are seeing good things begin to happen.
Do you know someone who deserves a spotlight? If you would like to nominate a neighbor to be a “Neighbor of the Month,” email Ryane Puckett: firstname.lastname@example.org. (Please include their name, neighborhood, and your reasons for why they should be Neighbor of the month.)
GO BE NEIGHBORS!