Brookwood’s “Network Days” Conference
August 20, 21, & 22
If you are planning, developing, managing social enterprises or a residential community for those with developmental disabilities, you may want to attend the next Brookwood Community Network Days Conference! It is a three-day immersion into the day-by-day operations with in-depth seminars led by staff who “provide an educational environment that creates meaningful jobs, builds a sense of belonging, and demands dignity and respect for adults with disabilities.” Learn how one mother’s school, started in a room at a church, transformed into the Brookwood Community, a faith-based, intentionally neurodiverse community on a beautiful 400-acre campus just outside Houston, TX. Brookwood employs over 180 individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) in social enterprises and provides a home and community to 100 of these ‘citizens.’ Thousands of customers visit their restaurant and browse their store, and volunteers get the opportunity to share the communities amenities while supporting those with I/DD. Having been there several times myself, I can say – it’s a whole ‘lotta family fun!
Here are some highlights from March 2014 Network Days:
As we worked side-by-side with citizens in horticulture and crafts, the Brookwood staff divulged their secrets to planting over 45,000 poinsettias in just 4 days and creating 33,000 pieces of art every month. Their best advice to create income-generating social enterprise opportunities is to find a proven professional in the field to assist in identifying and developing one or two original, high-quality, in-demand products. Afterward, determine the product’s appeal by selling it at local venues. Start somewhere and embrace the journey – even if you are simply creating ornaments from self-dry clay, cookie cutters, or bunches of herbs.
The Brookwood Community and its staff shared volumes regarding best practices in social enterprise. Interspersed with time for networking, Brookwood staff-led nine seminars such as ARM Your Mission: Attracting, Retaining and Motivating Staff, Admissions: A Process and Pathway to Hope, and my favorite, How to Raise $1M with 3% Expenses. Vivian Shudde, Executive Director and daughter of Brookwood’s founder, imparted her wisdom as well, “If you have the right leadership, the money will follow.”
Not only did we get to see Brookwood citizens at work, but they also invited us into their homes for dinner, and we had a rousing basketball tournament together that night! Michelle offers her insights on the Brookwood living experience in the video below.
NEW opportunities built into this next idea-exchange, information-sharing, and inspirational networking event:
- A Pre-Conference Seminar exploring the fundamentals and foundations of Brookwood’s Residential and Citizen Life programs, including an overview of the structure, staffing, and core values that define “The Brookwood Way”.
- In response to feedback from past attendees, additional networking opportunities have been planned to include an informal network reception on DAY ONE for attendees to enjoy continued dialogue and fellowship with peers.
- DAY TWO offers 9 seminars covering a broad range of interests including organization launch, program development, business operations, enterprise programs, admissions, fundraising, staff development, volunteer trends, and others.
The energy from everyone gathered, learning, and growing together was palpable. The event can be summed up in the words of Joe Mazzu, Brookwood’s Director of Development, “We are making history together!”