At the outset of the 2017 Fall semester, Dr. Jason Ware tasked students in HONR 29900 Well-being with discerning what determines quality of life, which we aimed to understand through work with community partners in impoverished communities of Lafayette. Myself and eight other students worked with the Hartford Hub, a neighborhood center located in the Lower Lincoln Neighborhood on the north end of Lafayette, to identify factors residents considered relevant to their well-being so that the administration of the Hub could implement improvements accordingly. Our student group worked with the pastors at the Hub to organize a pumpkin carving event for parents and children to carve pumpkins and meet their neighbors. We believe the night was a successful “foot in the door” in getting the community together, and gained valuable insights from that night, attending neighborhood meetings, handing out fliers, and an interview with a community member. Spending time in the neighborhood making observations and having informal conversations revealed the lack of trust between residents and strangers, including their own neighbors; I could tell that some of the adults were grateful that others cared about their community, while most were reluctant to speak with strangers, indicating a barrier to adult community development, whereas the kids spend most of their time at the Hub. Having grown up as a middle-class American, I was unfamiliar with many of the problems that people in poverty face, and getting to know them and their hardships has taught me how complex and unique each person’s life is, which we don’t always realize. At the end of the semester, we gathered that most residents were concerned with the safety of the neighborhood, and I think that with a greater reduction in crime, there would be a stronger sense of community contributing to everyone’s well-being.
"Examining the Barriers to Community Engagement in a Low-Income Lafayette Community,"
Purdue Journal of Service-Learning and International Engagement: Vol. 6
Available at: https://docs.lib.purdue.edu/pjsl/vol6/iss1/6