A Narrative Change
Nervousness set in when Martha was first approached with the opportunity. She was being asked to be in charge of the Maple Christmas Festival. She knew she couldn’t pull this off on her own, and with the Solidarity staff being stretched thin with responsibilities, Martha decided to lean on the neighborhood leaders from Mamas de Maple to make the Christmas Festival happen.
When asked about the chance to lead with her, the leaders in Mamas De Maple resoundingly said “yes,” to Martha, and added that they would help carry the responsibility of throwing a neighborhood wide party.
In response to a vacuum in staff participation, Mamas De Maple stepped up and threw one of the first parties to ever unite Garnet & Maple families together. For the past few years, Christmas festivals were thrown individually in each neighborhood. Due to the lack of man/woman power in Garnet, Mamas De Maple decided to open the festival to the Garnet neighborhood that helped build a relational bridge that reached across the city.
Martha and the Mamas stepped up during this time of need. There were moments that Martha doubted they would be able to get everything accomplished,
“Since many of our programs were shut down, I thought this year’s festival might take a step back. I doubted that we had enough time and that we would receive enough gifts for the store. But it was incredible to see all of the Mamas give so much every day; their time, money, dedication, and skipping commitments just to make sure the festival decorations were done on time.”
This group of resilient mothers kept their eyes on the goal. A gift drive were organized. An entire Whoville village was created and decorated. Members of Mamas De Maple paid for chair & table rentals. A neighborhood meal for 200 individuals was provided. They even booked someone to play the Grinch and entertain the children.
Local churches came in to help out where the neighborhood leaders needed assistance. They provided gifts, management of the store, crafts, a photo booth, balloon art, face paint, and a bounce house.
In the end, 60 families attended and neighborhood parents were able to purchase nearly 400 toys for their 198 children.
“For me, seeing all of this come together on the day of the festival was marvelous. I could not believe all that we had done. All the volunteers were amazed by the decoration and the mamas loved hearing that everyone enjoyed the work they had put in.”
The beauty of the day usually goes unnoticed in the city. People can be quick to label the neighborhood as a “bad community,” or only see it for the issues that our neighbors face; drugs, alcoholism, gang influence, fatherlessness, immigration, etc.
“Maybe some people judge the community because they don’t live here, and they have heard from others a negative perspective. I would love to invite those people to come, coexist, and to experience the community. The Mamas de Maple group are a good example because they are trying to make the community one whole family. This is why we want to invite others to experience the entertainment, cultural events, education, decorations, paintings, and events in our community.”
These mothers, the neighborhood leaders, are changing the narrative of their own community through an invitational spirit and a heart of hospitality. Martha and Mamas De Maple want others to see their neighborhood for the treasure that it is.
Invest in The TREASURES, Rise Above The Noise.
Solidarity’s Year End campaign.