Lower Price Hill nonprofit reflects true meaning of Community
The Cincinnati Enquirer published the following Op-ed authored by Donna Mayerson on November 18, 2022
We are living in a time of divisiveness and division. The front page of every newspaper reads as if Armageddon is here and now. There is a pervasive worry that we’re on the brink of coming apart. Yet, in spite of all of that, there are pockets of hope and resilience that prevail in this city.
Recently, I attended a celebration in Lower Price Hill of Community Matters. It’s an aptly named nonprofit that has been in Lower Price Hill for 50 years. Its sole purpose is to build and support community. What is unique about this nonprofit is that it works from the inside out, not outside in. It is an everyday celebration of the individuals who comprise this community, without judgment or exclusion, everyone is valued and welcomed.
I asked the woman sitting next to me, who was being honored for her contribution to the community, what was special about moving into Lower Price Hill. She mentioned three things: she was welcomed with love, she was asked if there was anything she needed, and she was given the opportunity to contribute.
That reflects the mission of Community Matters. It’s not about the accomplishments of the organization but rather a celebration of a diverse community of individuals working together to improve their lives and the lives of their neighbors. It’s about an organization that fosters a sense of belonging and provides the supports and services that the community itself identifies it needs. In contrast, most nonprofits assess need from the outside and then provide what they believe is in the best interest of the community they serve.
There are many examples of how this community has identified needs and created solutions. One prime example is The Washing Well, a community laundromat that is safe, affordable and provides an opportunity for residents to do their laundry in close proximity to their homes. Prior to this, residents of Lower Price Hill had to leave the community to get their clothes cleaned at a laundromat. Community Matters worked with residents to refine the concept of a community-run laundromat, identify a central location and source the financial resources to make it happen. It is currently run by two community members and serves as a hub, a meeting place for all. Remarkably, this has resulted in a net savings to this financially stressed community of a million dollars.
Community Matters doesn’t tell the community what they need but rather they ask and then they work hand in hand with the community to fulfill those needs. Their concern is the well-being of everyone. Community is commonly defined as a group of people living in the same locale. But Community Matters broadens that definition in the most important ways. It places a value on the individuals who reside within that community, and it raises up the idea that individuals who are valued and honored can come join together to thrive.
Community Matters rises above the negative judgments and divisiveness in the world by honoring the diversity and unique attributes of everyone choosing to live in Lower Price Hill and bringing them together around the shared vision of a better life. My hope is that this serves as an inspiration to the broader community about the power of being lovingly welcomed into a community, being asked what is needed and being given the opportunity to contribute in a meaningful way.
Donna Mayerson is a psychologist and trustee of the Mayerson Foundation who lives in Indian Hill.