Creating Community

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It’s a warm spring day at Edgewood Village and residents are working out in the neighborhood garden, while inside, the staff are preparing for the evening’s Fiesta Potluck. Nestled in Meridian Township, Edgewood Village is a nonprofit housing corporation that provides safe, high-quality accommodations for low-income, disabled or senior individuals and families.

The community consists of 105 townhomes and 30 apartments where residents of all ages interact daily. They offer a variety of programs and community resources including a computer lab, playground and Community Network Center. Classes include financial and homebuyer’s workshops along with other educational, social and recreational options.

Edgewood Village has been an essential part of the metro Lansing community since its founding in the 1970’s. It began when attorney Karl L. Gotting met Reverend Truman Morris and the two joined forces to work on a vision for nonprofit housing. They wanted to build a diverse community of townhomes and apartments for families and senior citizens; and with the support of Edgewood United Church of Christ, they were able to do so.

Awna Ari was a resident of Edgewood Village 15 years ago while she attended school to be a teacher. Now, she serves as the organization’s program director. For her, the mission has always been to end the poverty cycle and empower residents.

“I see us as a place where people come to learn and share with one another. I believe Edgewood Village and its residents are becoming role models for the surrounding community,” said Ari.

From the start, the group has worked to make Edgewood Village a place where residents can interact and be involved within their neighborhood. For Ari, this is the heart of the mission.

“The most rewarding thing is watching the community grow. Seeing the children getting along better. Seeing parents getting more involved in their children’s education and in their community. Watching people help each other, teach each other and take care of one another,” Air said.

One core value of the nonprofit is partnership. Edgewood Village collaborates with many community organizations to help grow, develop and sustain the neighborhood. One such alliance is with the Lansing Symphony Orchestra. The group donated tickets throughout the 2016 season, allowing residents to enjoy musical experiences and a night out in the community.

The group is also dedicated to empowering individuals and families. Located in the East Lansing Public School District, students of Edgewood Villiage receive a high-quality education that prepares them for a life after graduation. In addition, students can attend weekly homework help sessions or workshops that teach them to code or navigate through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Adult residents can attend English as a Second Language (ESL) classes and even a parent support group.

The mission of Edgewood Village is, in the words of John Duley, the nonprofit’s first president, “Now is always the time when more good can be done.” The phrase is even found on the fence that the surrounds the community’s Peace Thyme Garden. For Ari, this mindset is what sets Edgewood Village apart.

“What makes Edgewood Village special is all the love that is poured into it by people like Duley, the board of directors, the scholars committee, our community partnerships, hundreds of volunteers, the staff, and, most importantly, the residents,” she said. “We truly are a village and it takes all of us to raise these amazing children for a hopeful future.”


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