Love your neighbor.

Recent Website Improvements


We've been hard at work making improvements to the website over the summer. Some things you'll see, many you won't, and a whole lot of things that help our staff better connect you to projects. We know some of you are interested in what we're doing when it comes to leveraging technology, so we wanted to share what improvements and changes have been made. For those that aren't into the technical details, just know we're constantly investing in making your experience the best we can. 


Added new project status type to better describe why a project was cancelled:

  •    Cancelled - not needed
  •    Cancelled - not responsive
  •    Postponed / Cancelled - Funds Not Available

Added new project categories:

  •    Flooring
  •    Leaf Raking
  •    Wheelchair Ramp
  •    Wheelchair Ramp Improvements

Added typeahead and autofill functionality for admins to the Request Help page. The "firstname" and "lastname" fields will try to match a previously entered person and auto fill their information if selected.

Adjusted the project map to display your location in relation to the currently available projects.

Adjusted banner height to fit more content on page

Improved site security

Allow registered users to invite their friends to join NeighborLink via the dashboard.

Added the Super Admin role.  All current Admin role users have been upgraded to Super Admin role. The differentiator comes from our work here at NLFW where on occasion we have Super Volunteers that we trust that could use more access to our data reporting tools or project management features. This improvement gives them some additional functionality that Admins had before. All previous Admins are now Super Admin and retain all the “operations” oriented functionality that we had before. 

Updated permissions required for management functionality. 

Revamped the projects map to include a list of the closest projects to you. The map no longer zooms out to include your current location.

Implemented recurring project notices. Every two weeks that a project has not been updated (until 75 days after last update), a phone call is made to the project submitter, asking them if their project is still a need. If the submitter does not have a valid phone number in their profile, an email attempt is made instead. This feature will be the reason for so many potential phone calls this evening.

Allow basic users and volunteers to submit photos for a project while creating the project. Administrators for the affiliate will be notified when photos by these users are uploaded and can approve or delete them on the project page. The primary image for a project will default to its first approved photo.


Fixed the News and Projects sliders links on the home page.

Fixed the video page showing a site error if a Vimeo account isn’t setup.

The login page will now display an error message if an incorrect username or password is entered.

The login page will now return to the last viewed page upon successful login.

Nonexistent pages will now direct to a 404 page.

Fixed the dashboard notification “View this project” links.Completion of the signup page now redirects to a "Sign Up Was Successful!" page instead of a 404 page.

Video descriptions no longer have <br/> in them.

The service events section on the dashboard is no longer duplicated.

Reduced the maximum photo size to 20 megabytes.

Bernie on a Journey - Part 7 - August 9, 2019


The vlog this week featured a tour of Fairfield Manor, the historic apartment building  I call home:

 Seven Key Takeaways From The Global Leadership Summit 2019

This week actually marks the 7th week of the blog, so I felt I should use this one to bring up seven key takeaways from the recent Global Leadership Summit I was able to attend (due to the generosity of Ambassador Enterprises). The Global Leadership Summit had 16 amazing speakers, but here are the seven I want to highlight (to see the full list and to learn more about each speaker, visit

1. There is no other leadership than servant leadership

 -Patrick Lencioni

The conference’s theme this year was “everyone has influence,” but Lencioni, gave a caveat that not all people are ready to use their influence in good and useful ways to make positive change. Lencioni made the point that all leaders or influencers must sacrifice for and serve their team. He even asked people to question their motives for seeking positions of power, and if it was for selfish reasons, he exhorted people to remove themselves from leadership.


2. You are average, and that’s not an excuse not to do things

- Liz Bohannon

Bohannon shared her experiences struggling with imposter syndrome and feeling that she was not adequate for what she felt compelled to do. To help empower people listening to her message, she took several Pinterest-y inspirational quotes and dismantled them. “You are special!” no, we aren’t, statistically, we are mostly average people, but that doesn’t mean we are incapable of accomplishing goals and dreams. That brings her second point, don’t “dream big!” Instead, dream small, since all of our big dreams have to start small and tangibly.

3. Questions for all leaders to ask:  

  Who were you before people told you who you should be?

   If your body could talk, what would it say?

   Who are your people ( i.e. your support group and friends)?

  - Jo Saxton

Saxton explained each of these questions with poignant stories, but the overarching theme was to truly know oneself and one’s own desires, needs, and community. Life can be confusing and distracting, and as odd as it sounds, each person must take time to intentionally get to know themselves, because true success is impossible if it is not what the person really felt called to do, if it is at the cost of their health or if they have no one to share it with.

4. Radical Redemptive Inclusion creates bravery and loyalty

- Dr. Krish Kandiah

Dr. Kandiah used his experiences with the U.K. foster care system to challenge people to recategorize ‘problems’ as ‘potential’ and ‘obstacles’ as ‘opportunities.’ He gave several stirring examples of how when people are included and cared for, they can respond with incredible loyalty and bravery, such as a chain of stores in the U.K. that will hire former inmates to help make a difference in those from disadvantaged communities, heroic actions in tragedy, and his own experiences fostering “troubled” children.

5. Culture starts and stops with you

- Bozoma Saint John

Saint John shared there is no magic fix to create healthy  organizational culture and it starts with each individual. A healthy culture is one where everyone is moving in the same direction, according to Saint John. She also encouraged everyone to be vulnerable, so as to build real connections in the organization. She also made a key distinction that for a healthy organizational culture, the organization must strive for inclusion rather than simply diversity. She explained diversity as inviting everyone to the party, but inclusion as asking people different from you to dance. Inclusion is the key for increasing collaboration and connection in any group, which ultimately will make the organization more innovative and vibrant.

6. The key to any negotiation is connection

- Chris Voss

Voss, a former FBI Hostage Negotiator, explained that every person is in 5-6 negotiations per day and that anytime a person says “I need” or “ I want” then a negotiation is taking place. “Tactical empathy,” or fully understanding the other person’s needs, is crucial in these exchanges to move negotiation into collaboration. He also encouraged people to avoid asking “why” questions, since why questions can trigger people emotionally and shut people down. Instead, he said the main focus should be on “what” and “how” questions, always remembering that negotiation is all about creating a better future for both parties.

7. Your destiny won’t require you to compromise your values

- Devon Franklin

Franklin relayed one of his first experiences as a Christian working in Hollywood: he was interviewing for a great job, but had been convicted to not work on Sundays and despite his fear of losing the opportunity, he decided to be honest in the interview, and to his surprise, he still got the job! Franklin said that experience helped him to realize that by remaining faithful to his convictions, he would find the right opportunities to lead him to his destiny. By embracing his differences, he would be in the position to live the life he was created to live, but the road there would not be without discipline and discomfort.

These speakers gave me tremendous food for thought, and I’m still continuing to reflect and unpack all the information they shared. It was such a blessing to spend two days just sharing the message of Neighborlink and learning how to better serve others.

I hope you all take time to invest in yourselves, both professionally and personally, because unlike investing in the stock market, the return on these investments are wholly up to you.

Bernie on a Journey - Part 6 - August 2, 2019


The vlog for this week cover's one of the neighborhoods we are researching, Pettit-Rudisill, while the blog for this week covers my experiences walking in the neighborhoods.

The Value in A Smile

"You shouldn't smile so much. People will think you're crazy."

On one of my neighborhood walks, a neighbor told me this, and in doing so, told me volumes about the neighborhood atmosphere. Smiling and greeting others is not a norm there. 

But it should be. 

Smiling and greeting others both recognizes their dignity and also serves an important social function: it makes everyone feel safer and it encourages confidence in the community (

With less people walking outside and making an effort to smile and greet their neighbors, social cohesion breaks down (I mentioned this in depth in my podcast with NeighborLink Executive Director Andrew Hoffman, It is this social cohesion that makes the difference when people are explaining how safe or happy they feel in their neighborhood. There is something comforting about knowing those around you, and them knowing you. 

A beautiful sidewalk, ready for interaction!

This sense of connection starts with "the ballet of the sidewalk," where all different types of people intermix, explained Jane Jacobs, a famous activist for city planning and urbanism. In Jacobs' most famous book, "The Death and Life of Great American Cities," she devotes the first 3 chapters to "the uses of sidewalks", namely safety, contact, and raising children (Jacobs, J. (1961). The Death and Life of Great American Cities. New York: Random House). 

For all the important social functions that sidewalks provide, they are easily overlooked when it comes to maintenance and infrastructure redevelopment. Until residents speak up and make their needs known, sidewalks continue to crumble(or are missing entirely), which discourages people from using them. Since, "a well-used city street is apt to be a safe street," anything that discourages people from being outdoors is a bad idea, actively discouraging people from knowing their neighbors (Jacobs, 1961). This is one of the reasons people benefit from being involved in a neighborhood association: the neighborhood can organize and petition for the city to repave sidewalks and streets.

On my neighborhood walks, there are times when I have to pay close attention to the ground, because the sidewalks are so uneven or covered with debris, and anything that is an annoyance for those walking, is a true impediment for those on wheels, whether strollers, bikes, skates or wheelchairs (as I am biking more, I can confirm this). These issues seem like minor inconveniences when looked at individually, but the larger implication is that people spend less time outdoors, and therefore less time together.  

Just like a sidewalk does not crumble in one night, a neighborhood does not become disconnected in one night. It becomes disconnected as the result of small choices. Both from my research and from my time out in the neighborhood, I can see the various social forces, historic trends and personal choices, which can lead once healthy neighborhoods to social disorder and disintegration. 

One by product of wide streets is that it is hard to greet neighbors on the other side. Wider streets came as a by-product of increased car ownership, which was also driven by the movement to create residential areas free of amenities like grocery stores or restaurants.

Little choices matter and add up. Simply spending time outside your home and greeting neighbors can make your neighborhood feel more safe and vibrant. When choosing to participate in the neighborhood association and local events, you are creating a healthier community. The type of community we all want to live in. 

So. Choose to smile, even if it feels unnatural. Choose to greet your neighbor the next time you see them, even if you've lived as strangers for many years. Choose to walk your streets and invest your time and presence in your neighborhood. It's worth it.