Until last year, Sheryl Senkiw was a shy, 44-year-old Minneapolitan who didn’t know the name of her neighborhood and had never heard of the Neighborhood Revitalization Program.
After a neighbor filled her in on the name and the funding the neighborhood uses for housing improvements and other programs, the longtime Lind-Bohanon resident quickly took on the role treasurer of the Lind-Bohanon Neighborhood Association. Then the news came.
“I was getting the message that the money’s going away and there’s nothing we can do about,” she said. “I thought there must be something we can do.”
So she started Save the NRP, a group of residents from throughout Minneapolis working toward keeping the program alive. So far, 65 people have joined the organization, which started in July.
The group’s focus is communicating the importance of NRP, as they see it, to city leaders. A petition signed by program supporters is in the works and will eventually be delivered to the City Council, Senkiw said.
Barb Lickness, a neighborhood specialist for the NRP who helps provide information to the Save the NRP group, said she was glad to see the organization formed.
“I support their efforts because if the NRP is going to be salvaged or kept on as a program, it’s going to take some advocacy from neighborhoods,” she said.
Lobbying, organizing and educating is the only way to save the program, said Lickness, who lives in Whittier. She said many neighborhoods began organizing after learning last month that Phase II funding might be significantly reduced, but not enough residents outside neighborhood groups know about the benefits of the NRP.
“A lot of people know they’ve got a new gym in their school,” Lickness said as an example. “But they don’t know NRP paid for that.”
Senkiw was one of those people and now she’s hurrying to save the program, contacting neighborhood leaders and looking for petition signers before the NRP’s funding dries up in a couple years.
“We can’t wait a long time,” she said.
Save the NRP members use neighbors.meetup.com/45/, a section of the social networking site meetup.com, to communicate and announce meetings. Anyone interested in joining the group can sign up there. Members of the organization also created a website at www.neighbors4nrp.com.