Inmates Running the Asylum

One of our objectives at Pinewood Forest has been to empower our residents to lead and serve their own community. While we still have a ways to go before we declare success on this objective, we already have a great example of residents stepping up to serve. Our Friday evening “Weekly” has been operating for nearly two years, and has become a staple of our young community. Gathering together for a couple hours to kick-off the weekend has become a regular part of our lives here at Pinewood Forest. Six months ago we asked for volunteers to step up and serve as hosts for these gatherings. Resident Steven Brown hosted our first “resident led” gathering and it was a success. When week two rolled around, residents Aubrey Williams and Craig Warman volunteered to host. They recruited resident George Joseph to serve as the bartender and this trio was an instant hit. Quickly dubbed “The Three Amigos”, these remarkable residents started planning menus, budgeting for food and beverages, shopping, recruiting others to cook and clean, and before we knew it, the inmates were effectively running the asylum. This transition from “staff-led” to “resident-led” was surprisingly smooth and has inspired our development team to think differently about our role and how we lead. Our team has been challenged to recruit and empower resident volunteers to deliver events and programs rather than just doing them on our own. Sometimes it takes more effort to engage people than to just do it yourself, but the results that come from empowerment is always worth the effort. Whether it’s “The Three Amigos” planning The Weekly, or our amazing “Relay for Life” leadership team, I am amazed at what a motivated group of people can accomplish with just a little bit of support and a healthy dose of empowerment.