By: Sara Innamorato
Energy Ambassadors in Action.
What hardworking individuals in our Ambassador program mean to their communities.
ReEnergize Pgh ambassadors have been engaging communities and strengthening relationships with their neighbors and community based organizations. One noteworthy relationship exists between Homewood Ambassador, Rhonda Sears, and her ReEnergize community-based organization (CBO) partner Operation Better Block (OBB). To better understand the dynamic duo, we sat down with OBB program coordinator, Jose Diaz, to discuss his experience working with ReEnergize Pgh and Sears.
Sears was first acquainted with OBB while contacting residents for the PHRESH project in the Hill and Homewood where she surveyed residents about area shopping and health. To Diaz’s knowledge, however, Sears has always been active in Homewood.
Sears and Diaz made acquaintances after she had been awarded a “Love Your Block Grant” in 2012 to beautify her street. Knowing Diaz’s work with OBB, Sears contacted to him to express her concerns and anxieties about her grant and project. In their preliminary conversations, he would explain to her “you just have to do it and see what works and what doesn’t.” Sears followed his advice and began workdays to improve vacant lots on her street.
When ReEnergize Pgh contacted OBB for a ReEnergize Homewood Ambassador recommendation, Diaz immediately thought of Sears. “I knew if she had time to commit to [ReEnergize Pgh], she could do anything.” He describes her as willing and unafraid to try something new,and knew she would value the learning experience provided by ReEnergize Pgh. “She is always open to learning and is always looking for ways to improve her work.”
Changemakers in the Community
Since the initiation of Sears’ ambassadorship, Diaz has watched Sears grow in confidence with her community work. She assuredly asks for donations, volunteers, and help for her events. Diaz said, “When she is committed to something, she goes all the way.”
“She makes my job easier [as a ReEnergize CBO]. She provides the work and will do it. I support her.” Diaz said. Having only given Sears direction and basic tools, she was able to complete her outreach. OBB has helped Sears with numerous events, one of the most recent being a Black and Gold City Goes Green Blitz where OBB provided a preparation and meeting space for the event.
According to Diaz, Sears is a primary example of OBB’s mission, strategize, organize, and mobilize block by block to benefit the Homewood Community. The result: residents working for residents while OBB provides support and encouragement. Daiz said “[mobilization] is what it’s all about—giving residents the tools they need and being able to watch them flourish from where they started. She is learning along the way.”
As Diaz reflected on his relationship with Sears through OBB, he surmised that her involvement with Homewood will not end with ReEnergize Pgh. He predicts she will continue to take on responsibilities and projects – making Homewood a better place.
“Rhonda is a catalyst, ” he continues. She channels positive change by providing education, support, and assistance on energy efficiency and community resources for her neighbors.
If you live in Homewood, Contact Rhonda to information about how you can ReEnergize Homewood.
To learn more visit our ReEnergize Pgh page.
Comment below and tell us how you are an Ambassador to your community.