Getting Started With Building Relationships

“Who else should we involve in community-level change?”

Relationships drive the work of community change forward. You are working to build relationships with a central team right now, but what about building relationships outside of your team? You need funding, resources, volunteers, and other assistance as you move through executing projects.  

The work of building relationships needs to happen before asking for something from organizations or individuals–your goal is to cultivate long-term and authentic partnerships while identifying what is important to community decision-makers, potential funders, and volunteers.  

In order to build strong relationships with others, you need to understand how you work with others. Continuing to learn more about yourself is important as these relationships develop. 


Activities: Choose 2-3 activities to complete to identify common interests and build relationships with your team. You’ll be tempted to jump straight into the work, but understanding what matters to others on your team and how they work best is important to your long-term success. Take your time with the activities; they aren’t intended to be completed in one sitting. 


  • Power Trading CardsTaking information that you garnered from your one-on-one conversations, complete this activity to have a quick reference within your community of what stakeholders consider to be important assets.  


  • Enneagram Personality Test – The Enneagram is a personality typing test that focuses on how you interact with others and what you find important. Take this quiz individually and then discuss your findings and results with your team. Identify who among the team is best at reaching out to new people and who is best at maintaining relationships.

  • My Community WishlistUsing the Community Wishlist from Lesson 1.3: Getting Started With Others, add a fourth column that identifies who exactly in the community cares about each of the items on the wishlist to better show the importance of these items.


Here’s your chance to take some time to think and reflect on your dreams and interests. Keep a community building journal, scribble notes on some post-its, or simply think about these questions before moving on to the next lesson!

  • Reflecting on your Enneagram type (1-9), identify your strengths and weaknesses with relationship-building tasks (For example, Enneagram 2s tend to be people pleasers).

  • What are specific tasks in your community that volunteers could assist with completing?

  • What were you surprised about when conducting the one-on-one conversations exercise?

Community Development in Action

MacKenzie Walker is a community leader in Matewan, WV who utilizes the power of relationship development to harness resources and funding for the West Virginia Mine Wars Museum. Through building powerful partnerships, the City of Matewan has completed a series of small wins and met goals through a community development process, leading to larger projects currently underway. Learn more about what’s happening in Matewan in this video.

Watch this HubCAP video highlighting Matewan and their amazing work!

Ready to keep going?

WV AmeriCorps VISTAs honor our country by giving back!


A trio of VISTAs (Volunteers in Service to America) gathered to spend a morning serving the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Morgantown, West Virginia. The organization allows family members to stay close to their children as they receive medical care.

Maddie Ferrell, a VISTA serving with Friends of Deckers Creek, organized the opportunity. The team began by beautifying the landscape that surrounds the Ronald McDonald signage. This included pulling weeds and tending to existing flowers. Afterwards, they toured the exterior of the property and cleared the garden areas of any imperfections. Once supplies were stored and trash was removed, the trio sat together at a picnic table, under a blossoming tree, and reflected on their time together. 

“Volunteering with the Ronald McDonald House was a wonderful experience. It was so nice to be reminded of how many wonderful organizations are here in West Virginia giving back to the community. I also appreciated having the opportunity to meet other VISTAs and learn more about their role and their host organization,” Ferrell said.

Arin Shatto, the Community Engagement VISTA serving with The West Virginia Community Development Hub, felt a personal connection to the organization. “A few of my family members have utilized the Ronald McDonald House Charities in times of desperate need. Staff and volunteers provided a home away from home that was filled with compassion, kindness, and love. It was humbling to be able to give back, in some small way, to an organization that continues to make a difference in our community.”

Now it’s your turn, West Virginia! Take action.

Do you want to make a difference in a family’s life? Learn more about how to donate or volunteer with Ronald McDonald House Charities, Inc here.

Do you want to give back by building capacity in your community? Learn more about what it means to be an AmeriCorps VISTA here.

Desmond Tutu once said, “Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.” 

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