Becoming a Community Game Changer


How you can impact those in need by Dr. Betty Glover Palmer

“Game changer” is a relatively modern phrase that we hear often when someone makes a paradigm shift in the current mode of doing or thinking about something or making a greater impact. Perhaps each of us can identify with a particular game changer who has impacted and or transformed our lives! The impact of COVID-19 upon the economy has created a plethora of opportunities for leaders to become community game changers through revitalizing urban and rural low-income communities. Many of our communities are plagued with poor housing conditions, low quality educational systems, crime ridden neighborhoods and a lack of quality health care. As leaders, we should take seriously our responsibility to create vibrant community development programs.

I believe that the greatest game changer who walked this earth was Jesus. Several years ago, Olive Tree Media produced a thirteen-part series, Jesus the Game Changer. The series “explored Christian faith and how Jesus’s teachings have informed and impacted such democratic concepts as the equality of all individuals, servant leadership, compassion for the poor and marginalized, the dignity of women and children, the importance of education and much more.” Jesus broke away from the mainstream thinkers, the rich and powerful and hung out with outcasts because He was creating a model of how to build His Church/community. In his article “Who Did Jesus Hang out With?” Daniel Forster states, “Jesus did not operate within the parameters dictated by His culture.” He sought the crippled and disease-ridden and any whom society had deemed unworthy, disreputable and morally wrong in their lifestyle choices. They were the ones who were lost, lonely, in pain and willing to admit it. He was a game changer!

Often, game changers emerge from the grassroots level. Many years ago, I was presented with a community game changing opportunity that had a major impact in my community. Along with a team, I led the effort to establish an Urban and Global Economic Development undergraduate degree program at Beulah Heights University. Hundreds of leaders were trained to develop community development programs. This was the first Bible college in the nation which offered such a degree.

Have you yearned for ways to change the status quo, to help people improve their lives and the community in a big way? Many opportunities exist to:

• create affordable housing.
• develop quality models of education that meet the needs of diverse people.
• provide quality affordable health and wellness programs in underserved populations.
• train for job readiness and jobs that pay livable wages.

You have the power to do so as a leader. You have the potential to become a community game changer.

Suggested Steps to Becoming a Community Game Changer

Get to know the gatekeepers in the community. Hear their passion and heart! Assess a targeted community and determine what existing assets the people can build upon to meet their identified needs. Explore the opportunity of establishing a nonprofit organization that will provide a structure for designing programs. As your organization begins to take form, you will need to develop the legal structure, which includes establishing a board of directors, registering the organization’s name, developing articles of incorporation, bylaws and obtaining the IRS tax exemption status.

The community game changer leaders can be powerful as they walk alongside the community leaders and develop strategies to revitalize the community. When communities flourish, people flourish.

This article was extracted from issue 8 of Thrive Today! Journal (Winter 2023).