Cross Country Peer Learning Site Visits Builds Valuable Partnerships and Increases Capacity

appalachia, Housing, National | December 10, 2019

Today’s Blog post was written by Angela Stephens who is the Project Development Coordinator in Fahe’s Strategic Programs Department.

On November 20-21, 2019, Fahe staff participated in a Peer-Learning Site Visit, supported by funding from NeighborWorks® America’s Community Initiatives team. Over the past six years, over 80 NeighborWorks organizations have participated in peer learning site visits that provide opportunities to engage in collective problem solving, share best practices, challenges, and lessons learned. Peer learning opportunities encourage the adoption of impactful practices in comprehensive community development.

Day 1 of visit – Lunch with CPLC staff and members of Fahe’s Strategic Programs and Development teams.

During the November 2019 Visit, Fahe hosted two staff members from Chicanos Por La Causa (CPLC), a NeighborWorks America (NWA) organization in Phoenix, Arizona, founded in 1969. CPLC staff who participated in the 2019 peer visit were Karen Armknecht, CPLC’s VP of Research and Evaluation, and Nikki Ramirez, Director of Supportive Housing Services at CPLC.

In December 2018, Fahe staff participated in an NWA funded Peer-Learning Site Visit onsite at CPLC’s offices. Pam Johnson, EVP of Business Development and Outreach, and Angela Stephens, Project Development Coordinator, traveled to Phoenix where they learned about innovative partnerships in areas of healthcare and housing. Then this year, when Fahe was approved to participate as a host site, CPLC applied to attend Fahe’s site visit and travel to Berea!

Day 1 of Peer Visit. Tour of Eastern Scholar House (ESH). CPLC staff meeting with Melissa Gross – Director of ESH & staff of Fahe Member Kentucky River Foothills Development Corp.

During the recent peer visit, CPLC staff learned about Fahe’s business model, our various lines of business, and Fahe’s Membership Network spanning six states in Central Appalachia.  Visitors were given a tour of several local projects that demonstrate Fahe’s successful collaborative partnerships – including the Eastern Scholar House, Liberty Place Recovery Center, (both developed and managed by Fahe Member Kentucky River Foothills) and other sites around Richmond, KY.  

Day 2 – Tour/Visit to Beattyville and Fahe Member Beattyville Housing & Development Corp. (BHDC)
Photo – L to R – Pam Johnson, Fahe Chief Business Officer, Nikki Ramirez, CPLC Director of Supportive Housing Services, Vonda Poynter, Senior VP of Membership, Wilma Kelley, Exec. Director of BHDC, and Karen Armknecht, VP of Research and Evaluation at CPLC.

On day two, the group traveled to Beattyville, KY, and toured several very rural/remote sites developed by Fahe Member Beattyville Housing Development Corporation (BHDC), and met with Wilma Kelley, BHDC’s Executive Director. After touring the Beattyville site and seeing the work that Fahe’s Member has accomplished there, Karen said “What you have done in Beattyville is truly remarkable.” It was eye-opening to CPLC’s staff to realize how challenging community development work can be with very few resources available in some rural communities. Successfully working in these areas requires developing innovative solutions and strategic partnerships. Nikki Ramirez observed, “Fahe takes the path of most resistance.

Fahe appreciates the support of NeighborWorks® America’s Community Initiatives to host visitors from Chicanos Por La Causa, and the opportunity to connect with other NeighborWorks Members across the country. We are excited to have opportunities to build valuable relationships with outstanding organizations like Chicanos Por La Causa and others across the NeighborWorks Network, and learn even more ways to move Fahe’s mission forward.