Maddie Roberts was born and raised in Illinois and attended Taylor University in Indiana where she majored in Public Health. After graduating from college and marrying her husband, Christian, Maddie moved to Holland, MI. Beginning July 1, 2020, Maddie joined CommunityWorks part-time to start her connecting work in the West of Washington neighborhood through a partnership with the City of Holland. We recently caught up with Maddie to ask her about her experience of discovering and connecting local gifts.

What is it that drew you to connecting work in the first place?

Connecting work recognizes that, regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, or religious beliefs, every neighbor is an integral piece of a neighborhood. I believe that neighborhoods are agents of change and sources of belonging, and it’s these values that drew me towards connecting work and CommunityWorks!

You’ve been a connector now for a couple of years. What’s a favorite story from that time?

While it is hard to pick just one, a recent favorite story took place when a neighborhood family approached me with a creative vision to repurpose the blank space of their garage door into a mural that would respond to racial violence and injustice. Over five weeks, in partnership with CultureWorks’ Student Advisory Council and with artistic direction from professional artist Jamari Taylor, we envisioned, designed, and painted a neighborhood mural. This project is a perfect example of collaborative, neighborhood-based creativity. Our hope is that this mural will inspire neighbors to reimagine their own day-to-day spaces and to consider creative ways that they may also seek racial justice, equality, and peace.

What are you learning from starting a completely new project in the West of Washington neighborhood?

Over the last six months, I have been reminded that even though West of Washington is a “new” project, there is always an abundance of partnerships, initiatives, ideas, and dreams already taking place within every neighborhood. While I get to discover, celebrate, mobilize, and support what’s taking place in West of Washington, my biggest priority is to learn the intricacies and history of the neighborhood.