Intentional Neighboring Community
The Annie C Courtney Foundation has a vision that every person, no matter their life circumstances, needs and deserves caring relationships. In fact, research confirms that individuals will thrive if they feel a sense of connectedness. Our innovative vision for youth, both those aging out of foster care and homeless youth age 18-24, is that they live in an interdependent, purposeful community called an Intentional Neighboring Community (INC.) Active senior citizens who share a common purpose reside in community with the youth. A common purpose – the well-being and success of the youth residing in the community – connects them. The youth benefit from a community of caring adults providing them with the sense of family absent in their lives and the elders find real purpose and meaning in their everyday lives through giving their time and talents to the youth within the community. The fabric of our INC is wholly dependent on the residents developing a sense of extended family within the community. Social service supports, also present, become the second line of defense, as problem-solving shifts from professionals to a dense web of natural, community support. We believe that a ratio of 1:3 youth to elder households, with a minimum of 40 units, is the ideal ratio to achieving this goal.
The organizing focus of any INC is that all people long for relational or social embeddedness in family and community. Community members view children and youth, adults and elders as if they are members of their own extended family. Additionally, given the opportunity, ordinary people of all ages and all abilities will care for one another in ways, and to a degree, that go beyond the scope of traditional social services. An emphasis on individual strengths and a belief in everyone’s capacity to care for themselves and their neighbors is at the heart of this model. It is these caring relationships with family, friends, and neighbors that shift the focus of problem-solving from professional service providers to the members of the community.