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New Quad-Cities Training Series Aims to Promote Racial Healing

As SAL Family and Community Services (SAL) celebrates its 50th year, few people have witnessed the organization’s evolution like Loredia Nunn-Dixon.

Born and raised in the Quad-Cities, Nunn-Dixon began 30 years ago as an office assistant, working her way up and then over into childcare and family services. There, she saw the nonprofit’s opportunity to offer the community a fuller range of services.

New Quad-Cities Training Series Aims to Promote Racial Healing

SAL Community and Family Services is a Moline-based nonprofit that was founded in 1970 as a day-care center.

SAL oversees Skip-A-Long Child Development Services, which operates four childcare and learning centers in the Q-C.

“Seeing the families that came in, I had a chance to experience firsthand that not only did they need childcare, but they needed other services as well,” Nunn-Dixon said.

When SAL decided to expand its services beyond childcare by piloting the Open Door Crisis Assistance program in 2009, Nunn-Dixon was chosen to direct it. Now, she is launching the program’s latest development with the help of a $14,200 grant from the Chicago Community Trust’s Healing Illinois initiative.

The project funded by the grant aims to strengthen relationships between community members in poverty and the volunteers trained to help them access resources and remove barriers.

Through Opportunities Quad Cities, an initiative managed by Open Door, these volunteers—known as “navigators”—partner with “neighbors” who have passed through Nunn-Dixon’s program.

“But navigators don’t always understand what neighbors have gone through in their life and what caused them to be there,” she said. As a result, well-intended advice may miss the mark or cause offense, harming the relationship and the support provided.

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Recognizing that race often plays a role in these ruptures, Nunn-Dixon requested the grant to facilitate moderated dialogues between navigators and neighbors, to be recorded and shared as podcasts, as well as professionally led bias and diversity training for participants over Zoom.

“We want to have what we call ‘courageous conversations,’” said Nunn-Dixon. “If a neighbor can tell the story of their struggles, their navigator can really understand the challenges they’ve faced.”

Starting on June 7, the racial healing podcast and training project will unfold over four weeks, but Nunn-Dixon sees potential for a longer-

New Quad-Cities Training Series Aims to Promote Racial Healing

Loredia Nunn-Dixon

term impact on SAL’s commitment to fostering a more equitable and inclusive community.

She hopes the project will allow Open Door and Opportunities Quad Cities to connect with more donors and volunteers.

“This work is all about bringing about healing—and not only healing, but awareness,” said Nunn-Dixon. “We want others to be aware that poverty does exist in our community. We want to get them involved in our movement.”

The navigators and neighbors podcast and training project will include the following topics and speakers:

  • Bias in the Workplace/Community—Alfred Ramirez (June 7, 7:00 p.m.)
  • Bias in Education—Debbie Teague (June 14, 7:00 p.m.)
  • Bias in Disabilities—Ryan Saddler (June 21, 7:00 p.m.)
  • Implicit Bias—Tammy Trice (June 28, 7:00 p.m.)

A certified poverty coach, Nunn-Dixon also plans to incorporate the recordings into future trainings and presentations across the country.

Separately from the Healing Illinois grant, SAL was recently awarded $25,000 by No Kid Hungry to increase food security among young children.

While the bulk of the award will go toward food assistance for families in the organization’s childcare programs, $3,175 will support federal nutrition program education and enrollment for families using SAL’s Open Door and Welcoming Center. The dual nature of the grant underscores SAL’s broad reach.

“We try to focus on the entire family—it’s a holistic approach,” said Nunn-Dixon. “I’m really passionate about all the programs. I’m passionate about it all.”

Each of the four meetings can be found on Zoom HERE. For more information, contact Nunn-Dixon at 309-793-8201 or ldixon@salfcs.org.

New Quad-Cities Training Series Aims to Promote Racial Healing

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Jonathan Turner has been covering the Quad-Cities arts scene for 25 years, first as a reporter with the Dispatch and Rock Island Argus, and then as a reporter with the Quad City Times. Jonathan is also an accomplished actor and musician who has been seen frequently on local theater stages, including the Bucktown Revue and Black Box Theatre.
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