New Leadership for Near West Side Neighborhood Organization

The new officers of the Near West Side Neighborhood Organization (L to R): Secretary Amanda Ward, Treasurer Karl Edmonson, President Martin Mechtenberg, and Vice President Tammy Bell.

South Bend, Ind., February 28, 2018.  Members of the Near West Side Neighborhood Organization elected new leadership Tuesday night. Thirty-eight residents from the neighborhood also known as West Washington met at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church to cast their ballots, selecting four new officers:

Members of the Near West Side Neighborhood Organization on election night.

  • Martin Mechtenberg, President
  • Tammy Bell, Vice President
  • Amanda Ward, Secretary
  • Karl Edmonson, Treasurer

The transition follows many years of dedicated leadership by former President and founding member Noreen Deane-Moran. Even though the officers are new, the organization’s mission remains the same: to “enhance the quality of life for all people in the Near West Side,” says incoming President Martin Mechtenberg, quoting the organization’s original charter.

“A neighborhood where community building leads to true resiliency,” he adds, describing a resilient community as “a place where neighbors meet challenges rather than retreating from them.”

To build that community, the new leadership team hopes to start by building the neighborhood association’s active membership. Their goal is an organization that reflects the full diversity of the neighborhood, not just members of different races and ages, but renters and newcomers as well. The leadership team knows this means a refreshed communications strategy, which they are already working on.

Also on their to-do list is the sort of housekeeping that few association leaders look forward to: bringing the organization’s governing documents up to date. The current bylaws date to the late seventies, and organization leaders have already engaged NRC to help them consider options.

Members of the Near West Side Neighborhood Organization on election night. Officers from the South Bend Police Department were also in attendance to share neighborhood safety tips with the organization.

The new leaders are well-versed in the support that NRC can offer: three of the four are graduates of NRC’s Neighborhood Leadership Academy. Bell and Edmonson participated in 2012, and Mechtenberg completed the 2017 Academy in December.

Ultimately, their goal remains simple, “to spend time together, be proactive about our neighborhood, and engage activities that improve the neighborhood for all who live here,” says Mechtenberg. “And to have fun,” he adds. “We’re not just about bylaws, we’re going to have fun, too.”

While the organization may explore holding meetings in rotating locations around the neighborhood, the meeting schedule is expected to remain the same: meetings are held at 7:00 p.m. on the fourth Tuesday of every month, and all residents of the Near West Side neighborhood are encouraged to attend.

For more information, visit NRC’s Near West Side Neighborhood Organization webpage.

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New officers and members of the Near West Side Neighborhood Organization meet at Purple Porch Co-op the morning following elections.