Children's Librarians: Community Champions for Children’s Mental Health Storytimes

Camelia Garrick, AmeriCorps VISTA Community Mobilization Coordinator and Desiree Hartman, Senior Program Coordinator
By Camelia Garrick, AmeriCorps VISTA Community Mobilization Coordinator and Desiree Hartman, Senior Program Coordinator

Being a librarian these days goes beyond wandering among stocked books and beyond the library walls. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the Children's Librarians across Boston Public Library neighborhood branches have dedicated their time and efforts to creating an outlet for children and families to come together for book readings, songs and activities focused on Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) with Children's Mental Health Storytimes

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Reimagining Funding Partnership

Ronda Alexander and Camilia Beiner
By Ronda Alexander and Camilia Beiner

Vital Village Networks of Opportunity for Child Wellbeing (NOW) is built upon pillars of equity, dignity, and community-centered leadership. As NOW’s work has grown over the last several years, there has been an intentional focus on how to build and support local capacity to drive the transformation they want to see in their community. In the late spring of 2021 NOW partnered with 15 community champions from across the country to embark on a journey of reimagining funding structures to center, honor, and uphold the values of local communities and coalitions. The group began to explore cooperatives as a model for restructuring funding in a way that uplifted partnership rather than power. The practice of self-determination is a core principle of cooperatives movements and structures, which makes room for autonomy, while also celebrating the wide array of wisdom, knowledge, and talents that exist within our communities.

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VVN’s Social Media Goal: Fuel Collective Community Power

Tiffany Rodriguez & Camelia Garrick
By Tiffany Rodriguez & Camelia Garrick

Is your organization already using social media to lift up community voices and resources? What tips and tools do you have to share with organizations who are looking to begin using social media? Learn more about how Vital Village Networks is using social media to empower the communities with whom we work.

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Social Justice Transformation - All Minds, All Hearts, All Hands on Deck

Camila Beiner
By Camila Beiner

Creating a Village

A blog series profiling the work of community leaders across the country working to address the twin pandemics of COVID-19 and racial injustice in their local communities. The series amplifies diverse leadership and the impact on communities, partnerships and members.


Latoya Gayle, a long-time leader with Vital Village Networks (VVN), has been an advocate for marginalized communities in Boston for many years. Gayle was first drawn to VVN when she participated in the Social Justice Mediation Program (SJMP), an effort that aims to train community members in conflict resolution skills that can be used to help build capacity in various settings. When she first participated in the program, Gayle explained it really changed her perspective on conflict resolution because she learned an abundance of information during the 40-hour training. “It really has created a network of conscious conflict resolution advocates, and it really resonates with people who are doing such amazing community-based work already in the city… so this program is just something that they can add to their tool belt when working in their communities.” For Gayle, Vital Village is a unique organization because they focus their efforts on doing meaningful work that really connects and resonates with people. Many times, when organizations work in marginalized neighborhoods, Gayle said members of the communities feel they have been taken advantage of because they are left with no tools to really lift themselves up. Vital Village does the opposite of that, which motivated Gayle to become a co-director of Vital Village’s Social Justice Mediation Program. People in the program share their life experience and give perspective on specific conflicts their community is facing. The goal of the program is to provide the leaders with the necessary skills to solve the problems they are facing. Being a co-director of the program has given Gayle the opportunity to meet over 100 community leaders that focus on many different issues. “Vital Village really is my village. I am there for Vital Village but I know Vital Village is there for me, and that is so comforting and empowering. I know that if I need a resource or connection, there is someone in that village there for me, and I try to be that for others in the village as well.” From teachers to parents to social workers, Gayle has been able to support people through their journey and build a vast network of people.

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