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This Summer I was fortunate enough to be invited by St. Ambrose Housing Aid Center to attend the NeighborWorks Training Institute (NTI) conference in Detroit, MI.
Initially I was reluctant to do attend. I had just signed a new client; started working on my brochure, updating my website; I recently adopted an adorable, energetic puppy; the basement was flooded and a new housemate was moving in. In sum, my life was busy and complicated! While I was trying to talk my way out of an exceedingly generous offer, I was thinking, what am I really going to get out of a housing development conference? Well as it turns out, quite a lot!
When I looked over the catalogue I was surprised at how many of the courses offered would help me, help my clients maximize LCR 's expertise as their event coordinator. Well, so I signed up! Sadly, the courses I thought would be beneficial to me and my clients were booked ( lesson learned, run don't walk to opportunities when NTI is knocking at your door!). As it turned out, the secondary courses I secured were a much better fit for me and my clients:
“Laying the Foundation for Fundraising”, “Developing a Donor Communication Plan” and the symposium: Creating Places of Opportunity: Investing In Neighborhoods.
Can I just say, “Laying the Foundation for Fundraising} and Developing a Donor Communication Plan” was INTENSE! I was completely unprepared for the amount of information Alyson and Fara dropped on us.
Fortunately, there was some down time. I got to have a lovely meal in the Greektown restaurant, Pegasus; hung out in Our/Detroit which is an all women owned vodka distillery and bar. They are part of an initiative created by Pernod Ricard to partner with locals in cities around the world to help create the finest regional Vodka. I am strictly a wine drinker ( Chardonnay in the Summer, Malbec in the Winter!), and my friend is an inspirational teetotaler, but they graciously made us incredible non alcoholic cocktails that was spicy, fruity and refreshing with their mango/pineapple/cayenne shrub. DELISH!
I got a taste of the local music scene while relaxing in the splendor of a real Speakeasy - Cliff Belles – listening to some terrific local jazz musicians, it was really cool man! By Friday I had reached information overload, so on the second day of Developing a Donor Communication Plan (day 5), I left after the morning break (sorry Fara!). I took off to the Detroit Institute of Art. It was FABULOUS! I am a huge fan of Diego Rivera, so it was a treat to stand before his Detroit Industry fresco. Honestly, if this was the only art I saw in Detroit, I would have been satisfied!
Being who I am, I needed to take a walk on the wild side! So I took an art tour of three Detroit neighbourhoods. It was truly inspiring to see how the hipsters/artists are creating their own employment/community. (Frankly, if I were twenty years younger, I would be part of that trend of creative entrepreneurials migrating to Detroit. But I am too old and risk adverse, so I am staying put. I love you B'more! ).
I have lived in Baltimore City for over twenty years, so I am used to seeing blight, but what I did not anticipate was how many magnificent examples of art deco and architecturally significant buildings in Detroit where on the verge of collapse/demolition and how deserted the downtown is after 5:pm. I have a renewed appreciation for the Baltimore City Inner Harbour.
Thank you St Ambrose Housing Aid Center for nudging me out of my comfort zone! Your generosity has given me an opportunity to expand the value I can bring to you and my other clients.
Linda C. Richardson
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