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?

Shinnston VISTA leads community food drive


My name is Jon Olsen. I’m an AmeriCorps VISTA serving with the City of Shinnston through The Hub. I am primarily involved with volunteer recruitment and management. Additionally, I conduct needs assessments and facilitate community forums to identify solutions to poverty in Harrison County.

When I became a VISTA in late October, one of my early goals was to identify partners with whom the City of Shinnston could collaborate on community service projects. I soon met Amber Blankenship, the Harrison County Family Resource Coordinator with WV Prevention Solutions. She presented to me an idea for an event: a food drive that would benefit the local food pantry in Shinnston. I was thrilled and started making preparations.

On December 11th, 2020 we held the food drive for The Lord’s Pantry. The Lord’s Pantry is a source of tremendous pride in the City of Shinnston, where many community members come together to support one another. On Thursday mornings, from 9:00 am – 12:00 pm, families and individuals in need from all over Harrison County come to The Lord’s Pantry to receive food and hygiene items.

The food drive was an overall success. Over 380 food items were donated and delivered as a result of our event. Additionally, the Harrison County Hope Lion’s Club contributed $50 worth of donations and provided a canopy for the booth.

The event was a great opportunity for the City of Shinnston to collaborate with a new partner, WV Prevention Solutions. This is a partnership that has the potential to grow and flourish, and I was given the opportunity to learn the skill of partnership development through my VISTA service.

If you’d like to connect with the food bank to volunteer or donate, contact The Lord’s Pantry Director, Sandra Haggerty, at

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