In 2015, Allina Neighborhood Health Connection grants were awarded to 59 organizations. CommonBond Communities’ Seward Towers East and West were grant recipients and through coordinated efforts organized walking groups for small groups of residents. At the end of the grant-funded activities, surveys were administered to participants by the Wilder Foundation.
While the focus of the walking group was to help residents become more physically active, another important outcome happened in the process. Residents connected with new people as a result of their participation. In addition to increasing physical activity and promoting healthy eating, the walks provided opportunities to build new social connections. A majority of participants rated their activity as “very successful” in helping them strengthen existing relationships (76%) and build new relationships (57%). Most survey respondents reported that they are more physically active and eat healthier as a result of participating. Friendship and good health walk hand in hand.
CommonBond’s newest housing community, Sunwood Village in Ramsey, MN, is halfway complete! Construction began on this 47-unit building in September. Sunwood Village is a mix of one-, two-, and three-bedroom units and will be part
of a mixed income, transit-oriented community near the Northstar Rail Line. Four units will be reserved for households experiencing long-term homelessness. Demand for these units has been strong, and we expect that more than half the units will be leased before the building opens in July.
Recently Jeanne McTootle, an 83 year-old resident from Arbor Lakes Commons — where the Tai JI Quan: Moving for Better Balance program is offered — stated that she didn’t think she could manage to stand without holding on tightly to something with her hands. In fact, she hadn’t tried it in over a year. During the standing portions of the class, Jeanne chose to remain seated and just watch. After several weeks of sitting out during the standing part of class, Jeanne decided to take the spot directly next to the instructor. When it came time to stand, she lifted herself up behind her chair along with the rest of the group. For the first time in over a year, with success, she let go of the chair. After several moments of maintaining her balance, she was so excited that she screamed with delight! The rest of the group applauded and cheered her on. What an inspiration!
As a student in the Masters of Social Work program at Augsburg College, Diana Laker-Seka chose CommonBond’s Skyline Tower Career Advantage program for her internship experience. Diana is one of ten Bachelor and Master of Social Work students, representing four colleges, that will complete their internships with Advantage Services this month. CommonBond is proud to play a role in the development of culturally competent leaders and service providers. Diana was given the opportunity to learn about many areas of social work including adult education, youth programs, and Advantage Services.
Originally from Uganda, this working mother of three wanted a deeper exploration of the part culture plays in effective communication and interaction between the staff and residents knowing both bring their own values, perceptions, and expectations to each encounter. Her internship was an enriching experience. Diana felt the environment at CommonBond Communities was one in which teamwork was always on display and everyone was treated with respect and dignity. Diana remarked, “I hope residents see themselves in me, and believe that just like me, they can move past any obstacles in their way and make a difference in the world.” Thank you Diana and Augsburg for your partnership with CommonBond.