In this community initiative, the interests of local citizens in the Bester catchment area are the primary consideration in identifying the goals and activities of our operations. Bester Community of Hope structures our efforts in two primary ways:
- Bringing together existing social institutions, civic groups, service providers and others under a shared neighborhood vision to improve access and quality to essential systems of support for children and families and their neighbors.
- Empower vested community leaders and businesses to be local agents of progress and decision making, as well as increase social cohesion to move towards sustainable growth in the quality of life for those residing in the Bester catchment area.
Our work in each of our domains could not happen without the guidance of our community. Families, students, and our community are the primary decision makers in how Bester Community of Hope serves families. It is crucial that their voice is heard because nobody knows the South End better than those that call it home. Our staff view our families as partners in our work versus just being clients our agency works with.
At Bester Community of Hope, we collaborate with community members through several advisory boards. The shared decision making process among our three domains empowers those involved, highlights the skills and abilities of our families, and helps us to remove barriers our community may face. We truly value the partnership that we are able to establish with our neighborhood’s residents.
Parent Advisory Committee
The Parent Advisory Committee, or PAC, is a group of parents and caregivers served by our family domain who are committed to providing input to Bester Community of Hope regarding programs and services offered by our agency. The objectives of the committee are:
- Co-create opportunities for parents and caregivers to take on responsibilities within the organization
- Cultivate positive connections and social networks
- Develop skills through engagement in leadership roles
- Increase program sustainability by providing feedback
Bester Elementary Health Center Steering Committee
Bester Elementary School is fortunate to have a health center on site to provide affordable, convenient, and reliable health care to students whose families may have a hard time visiting a doctor’s office. This program has a steering committee that assists the center in reaching and maintaining the goals and mission set forth by the South End community, Bester Community of Hope, and Washington County Public Schools. Representatives on the steering committee include:
- Bester Community of Hope
- Washington County Public Schools
- Community Free Clinic
- Meritus Medical Center
South End 21 Steering Committee
The South End 21 steering committee meets quarterly to review program accomplishments and areas for growth, make programmatic changes, and discuss program evaluations that have been completed. Members of the committee act as advisors for the successful implementation of the program. Representatives include:
- Bester Community of Hope
- Washington County Public Schools, including principals from Bester Elementary and E. Russell Hicks Middle School
- Parent with students in the program
- Solomon Evaluation
- OnTrack Washington County
- Hagerstown Community College
- St. Mary Catholic School
Community Advisory Board
On a quarterly basis, residents of the South End come together with community stakeholders and business owners to identify current challenges and barriers to the well-being of the neighborhood and, more importantly, potential solutions and resources. By working together to identify barriers to supportive resources, creating new opportunities for children and families to thrive, and advocating for the needs of all residents, the Community Advisory Board informs our work in the neighborhood.
Additionally, there existing neighborhood groups that focus on particular neighborhoods in the South End community. Our partnership with each allows for mutual strengthening of the work. Neighborhoods 1st is an initiative of the City of Hagerstown that where residents engage and collaborate with local government to build community. A map and contact information for existing Neighborhoods 1st groups can be found at https://www.hagerstownmd.org/183/Neighborhoods-1st-Groups
Resident services through Hagerstown Housing Authority provide a Resident Advisory Board or Tenants Association at Frederick Manor, Potomac Towers and Walnut Towers. More information can be found at https://www.hagerstownha.com/resident-services/