Jen McSweeney’s “ah-ha” Moment

by Jen Mc Sweeney,  Marley Park Neighbor, Wisdom Park

Jen McSweeney Headshot I had the pleasure of attending a presentation of the Highlights of the 100th Arizona Town Hall with a topic on Civic Engagement. As I sat in the community education room of the Communiversity amongst many of the West Valley’s prominent members listening to speakers share on the topic; I truly had an “ah-ha” moment.

Rewind to six years ago when my family moved to Marley Park. I wasn’t civically engaged and had never even heard the term. Nobody tapped me on the shoulder and said “Jen, would you like to become more civically engaged?” In retrospect I believe it was always inside me lying in wait. I needed the incubator, leadership skills and a mentor to bring it out of me.

Little did I know that choosing to live in Marley Park would start me on a path of personal growth. I now know that I can make a difference and I reap the rewards of this connected community each and every day. I must ensure that my voice is heard, that I am sharing in the lives of my neighbors, that I have helped form the future. I now ask “What can I do rather than what can you do for me”. Thanks to Marley Park I have become civically engaged without even knowing it was happening!

I, along with many other Marley Park neighbors, could be poster children for the theory that fostering civic engagement within communities has positive effects. It began when I was invited to a new resident event in June of 2006 just a week after moving into Marley Park. We met the MPCA and were introduced to other residents and made a connection.

Soon after that I received a call from MPCA asking if I would volunteer to participate in the Welcome Committee. This was an opportunity for them and my fellow committee members to learn what my interests and gifts were.

Next I found myself a part of the planning and implementation of the process. I enjoyed being a part of the decision making. It gave me confidence. I, along with other committee members, enjoyed the process so much we forged on to develop Community Cares which MPCA supported and helped implement.

Soon after MPCA presented us with the opportunity to develop the Marley Park Leadership program which they continue to facilitate. It really wasn’t until this point, six years later, hearing this discussion that I realized I was so fortunate to have been a part of this magic formula.

For me, personally, the introduction of civic engagement has been life changing. I know that being a member of Marley Park has afforded me experiences and opportunities I would otherwise not have had. I was encouraged by the MPCA and assisted with planning community events that allowed me an opportunity to give back to my neighbors and share my talents. I was recommended for the Board of the West Valley Arts Council and invited as a Marley Park resident to some of the West Valley’s premier events. My volunteer work within the community provided me with resume building skills that led me to my current position with WESTMARC.

My engagement within Marley Park has helped me get to where I am at today. Marley Park provided the mentorship. Now it is my turn to pass it on.

And now it’s yourour turn: what was your Marley Park “ah-ha” moment?