Meet our newest Community Connector, Makya Murphy. Makya was one of the participants in the Community Connector course. She works in the area south of 32nd St. in Holland, MI. Makya’s efforts bring people together, cultivate community, and create the conditions for positive change. We recently caught up with Makya for an interview.
Makya, tell us about yourself.
Eleven years ago, my family moved to Holland, and what at first seemed new and scary has become what I call home. I moved here from Benton Harbor, where there wasn’t a communal feeling, but Holland was completely different. That led me to this position so I can encourage more people to join their community. When I’m not doing Connector work, I’m busy as a full-time college student and a mother to my one-year-old son. I am currently getting my Bachelor’s in Education, and I plan to be an Elementary School teacher after I graduate.
Recently, you participated in a Community Connector class. Can you tell us about that?
Yes! Attending the Community Connector class was extremely beneficial for me. I learned key techniques in bringing my community together, and it also aided in learning the skills necessary for accurately recognizing the different qualities and assets in other individuals. I was also able to gain community from my classmates and learn new things from them. We had a variety of great women in our group. In addition to this, I was able to get this job as a Community Connector and apply everything I was taught! I’d recommend this class to anybody wanting to improve themselves and their community, even if that might not be their career path. There is a lot of knowledge coming from that six-week course.
And what drew you to participate in the class in the first place?
Initially, I was interested in this class because I wanted to get to know my community more and needed strategies on how to do so. Like I said, with me not being from here, there are still a lot of people I do not know and connections I have not made. However, after hearing different stories about Southwest Holland and other areas of the city, I knew there needed to be more put into that area specifically.
I understand the class has already made an impact in the neighborhood. Can you share?
Yes! Myself and my classmates were able to host two different gatherings at Meadowlanes Townhomes. Our goal was to bring the people of the complex together, and hopefully find some people that would want to continue having gatherings even after our class ended. We started off with a game night hosted for the children and their parents. That had a great turnout, and the kids had fun. It was a great way to introduce ourselves to the community and start building relationships. The second and largest event we put together was our Octoberfest, where we had the kids and parents come out dressed up for Halloween and play some games, eat some good food, and spend time with their community. This event was very special to me because I have a huge passion for bringing people together and also creating safe and fun spaces for the children of the community. It felt good to hear that the parents of Meadowlanes appreciated our initiative in hosting an event so that the kids could have a good time, and the parents found themselves mingling as well. You truly know your efforts matter when you get a first-hand experience of its effects.
How do you see your work as a Community Connector nudging the neighborhood toward a better future story?
I believe that with time, my work as a community connector will not only bring people together but also encourage more members of the community to crave change and take the steps to promote change as well. I see the community having their own group of people--all putting in different assets to create events, fundraisers, and even just social gatherings for all to attend. This, in turn, will automatically better the neighborhood, because where there is community, there is positivity and a successful future.
Thanks for all you’re doing, Makya! Also, thank you to all our supporters, as well as the Community Foundation of the Holland-Zeeland Area general fund. You made the Community Connector course, and Makya’s work, possible.