The Pioneer Post

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Thursday, March 6, 2008

By Scott Skelly

All too often people think of project management as big companies, multimillion dollar projects, and a team full of professionals working non-stop to complete a project. Kim Chapman, a resident of Milwaukee, Wisconsin proved that project management does not always take place in the corporate environment.

Chapman completed her Master of Science in Project Management last fall through UW-Platteville. When it came time to lead a project, she realized she did not want to complete her project as a part of a company. Instead, she wanted to touch lives. She wanted to give some people dinner.

Chapman had an idea in her head and started researching resources. A local non-profit called Cluster to Neighborhood Organization liked her idea and agreed to help. Her plan was to provide a free Thanksgiving dinner for a poorer neighborhood in Milwaukee. But she wanted to do more than just give the people food and a piece of clothing to go home with. Through her work, those who attended received that and much more.

Chapman knew that many of these residents have a number of problems with local government, landlords, and social services. Many times if these people call city numbers with questions about city and social services, they may be on the phone for hours and not get an answer. So, she decided that to help both groups she would put everyone in the same room to help them connect with needed resources. On the Saturday before Thanksgiving, she organized a unique event to serve her community.

A wide variety of city and non-profit groups attended the event held in the basement of a local church. Agencies such as the Adult Literacy Center, the Department of Health and Family Services, Department of Corrections, agencies that process food stamps, and Medicare representatives were some of the groups represented. The Milwaukee Health Department gave out health kits and special coupons to families. Neighborhood service organizations also talked to attendees about things such as rental issues to help residents solve landlord problems rather than the resident simply stopping payment and end up being evicted. Specialists shared information about creating more energy efficient solutions in a home which is important for people on a tight budget. County supervisors also attended and talked with people attending the event, and some helped serve meals. One supervisor commented that this was the largest event that person had ever attended of this type. “It put the individuals face to face,” Chapman said. For once, they were able to get their questions answered. She said that city caseworkers have a very high turnover rate so it can be hard for people to get answers. Caseworkers were at the event to help answer residents’ questions.

Chapman was very pleased with the turnout of 273 people coming during the four hour event. Based on past Cluster to Neighborhood events, Chapman had originally thought that only about 50 people would attend. But donations had allowed her to prepare ahead and she still had left over food to donate to Sojourner’s Truth House, a local women’s shelter. “This place was packed with families who sat down together and had a dinner,” she said. After the dinner, families had the opportunity to take home household items and a variety of clothing items. The event did not cost Chapman or Cluster to Neighborhood anything besides a few fliers Chapman printed because everything else was donated.

“My perspective of project management was much different than I thought it would be,” she recalled after the event. She found something that she cared about and made it successful. “When you see project management, do not assume it will be hard.” She used her social service experience to help others through her project. “It felt good when they said thank you because they felt like their voices were heard.”

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Anonymous PM Hut said...

Interesting article. Another proof that project management is all about communication.

March 6, 2008 at 9:49 PM  

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