Community Engagement involves working to make a difference in the life of our communities and developing the combination of knowledge skills, values, and motivation to make that difference. It focuses on promoting the quality of life in a community by investing in the stability and welfare of the overall community. It seeks to better engage the community to achieve long-term and sustainable outcomes, processes, relationships, discourse, decision-making, or implementation.
It is a process of working collaboratively with groups of people to address issues affecting the well-being of the community and bringing about changes that will improve the health of the community and its members. It requires partnerships and coalitions that help mobilize resources and influence systems, change relationships among partners, and serve as catalysts for changing policies, programs, and practices.
With a focus on the sense of community, the organization embraces four key elements:
- Membership – a feeling of belonging and sharing a sense of personal relatedness and emotional safety. Members have a shared history and participation in community development, including inclusiveness to ensure consideration of the diversity that exists within the community.
- Influence – creating a safe environment so that members feel that their input and contribution matter. At the same time there is a sense of group cohesion that will make a difference to our members and community at large
- Reinforcement – integration and fulfillment of community needs within our organization’s mission
- Integration and fulfillment of needs – members feel rewarded for their participation in the community.
Some of the benefits of community engagement are:
- Increase the likelihood that projects or solutions will be widely accepted
- Create more effective solutions
- Develop and/or improve knowledge and skills in problem solving
- Empower and integrate people with diverse backgrounds
- Create local networks of community members
- Create opportunities for discussing concerns
- Increase trust in community organizations and governance
- Allow organizations to identify and understand differing values and priorities
Community engagement is effective when an organization can
increase members knowledge about a community and/or the issue that needs to be
addressed. It encourages members to co-create additional knowledge and
understanding while applying the knowledge gained. It also creates future
opportunities for members to engage with each other. Members are active
participants and are invested in what happen in your community. As a community
it is critical that we continue to strive to maintain a strong bond of
interdependence by giving and doing for others to build a strong and vibrant