Building, Empowering, & Sustaining – SHE’s Community Development Programs

Building, Empowering, & Sustaining – SHE’s Community Development Programs

Posted on April 30, 2024

To celebrate SHE’s 60th Anniversary, each month we are highlighting the journey we’ve been on as an organization since 1965. Last month, we took a trip down memory lane and examined the roots of our Community Development programs, and this month we are spotlighting how much these initiatives have grown in recent decades. SHE’s services extend beyond self-help housing, and we understand that for communities to truly thrive, we must have a holistic approach to supporting and elevating residents and families in rural areas. The cornerstones of our Community Development programs are safe drinking water and sanitary sewer systems, and we have expanded over the years to include drinking water for schools, community engagement and planning, and leadership development.

At the forefront of SHE’s Community Development programs is the commitment to providing safe drinking water. Many communities in the region grapple with contaminated water sources, posing serious health risks to residents. SHE seeks funding and offers technical assistance to empower communities in their quest for clean, safe drinking water. From conducting water quality investigations to assisting with project financing, the staff works tirelessly to ensure a permanent solution to this critical issue.

“Being without water is very stressful because every time the community’s pump was out, we didn’t know how long we were going to be without water,” said Lucy Hernandez, President of the West Goshen Mutual Water Company. “The tests for our new pipeline came back clear and our water is safe to drink. I can cook and have a glass of water.”

SHE also recognizes the urgent need for proper sanitation infrastructure, particularly in areas where rural communities lack sanitary sewer systems. Through our Sanitary Sewer Systems program, SHE provides technical assistance to address wastewater challenges. By empowering residents to take control of their community infrastructure needs, we foster community decision-making and guide the development of sustainable wastewater disposal methods. This collaborative effort not only safeguards public health but also promotes environmental sustainability.

In addition to water-related initiatives, SHE is dedicated to improving access to clean drinking water in educational settings through the Drinking Water for Schools grant program. By partnering with local education agencies, we ensure that schools in disadvantaged communities have access to quality drinking water, creating a healthier environment for students to thrive.

SHE’s commitment to leadership development and community engagement is evident through initiatives like the Community Engagement Leadership Institute. This transformative program brings together water leaders, community residents, and agency staff to foster dialogue, gain perspective, and lay the groundwork for equitable water management solutions. By empowering rural community leaders and water management staff, SHE is driving meaningful change and promoting collaboration towards sustainable solutions for the Central Valley.

“My overall experience was very enriching,” said Keila Davila, a graduate of the Community Engagement Leadership Institute. “I learned the importance of leadership and community outreach and about those who need this resource the most. I loved the group dynamics that taught us to put what we learned into practice.”

Lastly, SHE’s Community Engagement & Planning team plays a pivotal role in building long-term water management capacity in rural communities. Through outreach efforts, workshops, and project support, SHE bridges the gap between communities and technical governance processes, empowering disadvantaged communities to participate in regional water management and groundwater sustainability planning. With a focus on education, outreach, and project development, we are dedicated to ensuring that all communities have access to clean water and sustainable infrastructure for generations to come.

To learn more about all of SHE’s Community Development programs and how you can get involved, visit:

#SelfHelpEnterprises #SHE60YearsStrong

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