Developing apartment residents as effective, active community volunteers is not the sort of activity for which affordable-housing developers are known. However, Community Preservation and Development Corp. (CPDC), headquartered in Silver Spring, Maryland, is not the typical not-for-profit real-estate developer.
"Our singular mission is to develop vibrant communities through innovation and partnership," says CPDC President and CEO Michael Pitchford. "One powerful way we ensure that our communities remain vibrant and strong is by encouraging resident engagement, investment and leadership through volunteerism."
CPDC recently hosted its first Volunteer Leadership Summit, which brought together nearly 70 people—with the majority being residents in its 11 rental properties—to develop their skills as volunteers and community ambassadors. Twenty employees of CPDC and employees from partners such as Majestic Day, Illume Communications and Contemporary Family Services served as staff and facilitators for the event.
"We wanted to provide a platform through which residents can find new ways to engage in their communities and connect with fellow volunteers from across CPDC's properties," explains Jennifer Fauss, director of volunteer engagement for CPDC, who organized the summit. "Our goal was for residents to enjoy the event and take away new inspiration for creating volunteer-based action in their communities."
Residents who attended completed formal evaluations on the experience.
"I learned how to run a productive meeting and how to convince others to volunteer," says Jaqueline Makinde, an avid senior volunteer at CPDC's Southeast DC Mayfair Mansions community.
Makinde's energy was shared by one of the youngest attendees, 13-year-old Carmela Dangale, a resident of Stony Brook Apartments.
"I enjoyed how everyone appreciated what I had to say and asked me questions," adds Dangale. "It was fun and I learned many new things, including how to create my own volunteer project."
Since 2007, more than 1,400 individuals have donated more than 120,000 hours of service to CPDC's volunteer-engagement program. With a capacity to engage an average of 100 active volunteers at any given time of year, CPDC explores new ways to recruit volunteers on an ongoing basis, matching them with opportunities and celebrating successes.
"I am honored to work for and with CPDC's committed and dynamic group of volunteers," says Fauss. "I am energized by the passion, commitment and talent volunteers bring each day to help our communities."
CPDC owns and operates more than 30 communities in Washington, DC; Maryland; and Virginia, and specializes in mixed-income and -use developments, historic preservation and adaptive reuse. It has been recognized for innovative financing, green building design and public-private partnerships. The organization has more than 9,000 residents in over 4,500 apartment homes.