I just finished reading East Scarborough Storefront’s book – The Little Community That Could – http://www.thestorefront.org/ourbook/, and it was very inspiring! I must admit, I only knew a little bit about this organization before I read the book, even though its in my backyard and it embodies the community development ideals that I care so much about. I knew that it was a hub model, where many agencies provide services under the same roof so that individuals can access many diverse service in a ‘one-stop shop’. I knew that the storefront was the first hub model, and now that is being replicated all across Toronto because it is effective and cost-efficient service delivery. I knew that the Storefront was a project of Tides Canada, meaning that it isn’t a legal charity on its own and therefore is released from the burdens of many administrative/legal/operational duties that come from being a registered charity.
What I didn’t know, and what inspired me the most, is the depth of its commitment to community collaboration and development, seen through its decision-making model, HR policies, community engagement strategies, and work in partnership with residents. East Scarborough Storefront exists to foster collaboration leading to collective impact! Collaboration is critical to solving complex social problems, and so the role of ‘relationship-building’ is needed to keep this process moving.
I especially LOVE the volunteer model. Most traditional volunteer coordination is done to support the organization. East Scarborough Storefront does volunteer recruitment/retention/coordination to support the COMMUNITY! One of the ‘services’ they provide is a pool of quality volunteers who can help out at any community events or activities that a resident is organizing. Therefore, if you are a resident needing some volunteers to support your activity, you don’t need to start from scratch in terms of recruiting, screening, training, retaining volunteers. This makes it much easier for a community resident to take the first steps in starting a project, knowing this support exists.
Anyways, I can’t say enough great things about this book. Read it!