A flourishing, vibrant city is composed of several unique components. It includes businesses, volunteer groups, and caring and compassionate citizens who go above and beyond to help one another. Whether it’s during times of growth or trauma, these types of connections are the heart of a city.
In Phoenix, there’s a strong link between neighbors, friends, businesses and the community. As a longtime resident of Phoenix, Carolyna Marshall has experienced this firsthand.
Carolyna is the Volunteer Coordinator at the 1st Phoenix Community Center. She explained that after the pandemic and Almeda Fire, the Community Center is navigating what opportunities and challenges the future may hold.
“We were stretched thin before the fire, and now we must work even harder,” she said.
“Everyone will have to come together and make positive changes for our community. When our businesses and the people are in a good place, we see the impact of that throughout the city.”
Before the pandemic, the Community Center hosted community dinners twice a month. People gathered at the church to eat, and local youth volunteered in return for school credit. It was a time when the community rallied together, shared meals, and connected in a meaningful way.
“But after COVID, it’s now ‘wait and see what we can do’,” she explained. “We have to take each new day as it comes and make decisions based on that.”
However, there are big plans on the horizon. According to Carolyna, the Community Center wants to host a variety of events again, including computer and art classes, trunk or treat, a holiday bazaar, and much more.
“Events bring everyone together. We do those things as a community and it lets us see who our neighbors are and meet new people. When we connect, I believe we are more prosperous.”
Looking back, Carolyna said the community was already facing various challenges, but they were brought to the forefront because of the Almeda Fire and pandemic.
Before the fire, there were people living in poverty, a housing crisis, and businesses were left without a Chamber when it dissolved in 2019.
“Then the fire happened and it exposed these issues,” she said. “A lot of people and businesses couldn’t return because they either didn’t get the right insurance or didn’t have a safety net to help them.”
However, there has been a lot of positive momentum in Phoenix and its surrounding cities recently. New businesses have come in, homes are being rebuilt, and there is a sense of hope and vitality again.
“When we work together, we make Phoenix a great place to live and visit,” she said. “We have a lot of big dreams, and with everyone’s help, we can make them a reality.”
For Carolyna and the Community Center, there’s a drive and a desire to help the people and businesses of Phoenix, because everything is connected. She believes it is a process that will take time and effort, but is within the reach of everyone in Phoenix.
“I feel like we’ve got to help each other because we’re all in this together.”