Strength is a dynamic concept whose definition constantly evolves to suit the context. In some cases, strength can used to define physical dominance and in others, strength can be marked as the quiet resolve of just getting up in the morning and through the day.
When it comes to Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps, most people would associate him with physical strength. Dominating the competition, Phelps brought home five gold medals during the 2016 Rio games and proudly stood atop the pantheon of heroes as he claimed victory for the United States.
As impressive as this is, Phelps’ battle with mental health issues and alcohol abuse is also a story worth telling as it showcases the strength of a man bolstered by the strength of community.
After wowing the world at the 2004 Athens Olympics and then again four years later in Beijing, Phelps should have been on top of the world. He was a golden boy whose aquatic prowess earned him fame and fortune but instead of finding peace and contentment in this scenario, Phelps found himself adrift.
Arrested once in 2004 and again in 2014 for driving under the influence, Phelps wrote in his autobiography, “I felt I’d gone from .?.?. being on top of the world .?.?. to being in the deepest black hole.”
He credits family and friends for helping him emerge from this darkness, relying on the collective strength of his family, Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis and his coach/mentor Bob Bowman to help buoy him along until he was strong enough to float on his own.
Regardless of circumstance, humanity is stronger when we stand together.
Building social resilience is imperative to Community Partners’ mission of Changing The Odds. The crux of this mission is laid out in our name – we partner with the community to ensure strength, sustainability and stability.
While we have been on the front lines of community development for the past 30 years, Community Partners has focused their efforts in the pockets of Lake Worth and Riviera Beach over the past year and a half.
In addition to the creation of a kindergarten readiness program in Lake Worth, we have worked with residents to remodel the H Street Park. Underdeveloped, litter-strewn and prone to serving as a meeting place for illicit activity, H Street Park was a community resource withering on the vine and the residents of Lake Worth decided they would no longer tolerate its decline.
Community Partners stepped in and applied for Neighborworks America’s Community Leadership Institute grant on behalf of the residents. They were awarded $2000 to go towards the creation of a community garden and immediately got to work with a community clean-up and selecting plants, bushes and fruit-bearing trees to adorn the site. Residents were encouraged to choose flora native to their home countries so as to share in Lake Worth’s rich and diverse cultural heritage.
In addition to being a safe space for the community to gather, H Street will also serve as an educational touchstone as children will learn about the art of gardening and take responsibility for the plants they’ve grown.
Working together, residents made their community stronger, safer and more stable.
In Riviera Beach, we have expanded our presence in Stonybrook – a Section 8 Apartment Complex – and helped residents form an association in which they will serve as leaders, advocating for their needs as well as hosting a series of events ranging from a community celebration to a back to school event in which area businesses such as Havana Restaurant donated over $700 worth of school supplies for the neighborhood’s children.
Community Partners is committed to their mission of Changing The Odds through working with communities, focusing on their strengths and building social resilience all across Palm Beach County with new efforts starting up in the Western Communities.
And we need your help.
As our supporters, as our donors, as our volunteers and as our friends.
Because together, we are stronger.