Manchester Bidwell, located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania is a nonprofit center which serves at-risk youth and unemployed, underemployed, and displaced persons. Bill Strickland, MacArthur “Genius” award winner and community leader, established the center. He believes that environment shapes lives, and the center has thus proven his theory with a beautiful and empowering space to inspire, motivate, and lead those who may feel restricted within the cycle of poverty.
Recent Masters of Social Work Graduate, Josh Nadzam, has been quite busy since his interview with Social Work Helper last spring. Over the summer and into fall, he rallied the community, businesses, and organizations to get involved in innumerable ways to open a replication of the nonprofit Manchester Bidwell center in Lexington, Kentucky. Inspired by Strickland’s 2009 personal growth book “Make the Impossible Possible: One Man’s Crusade to Inspire Others to Dream Bigger and Achieve the Extraordinary,” Josh is well on his way to providing the same opportunity to the disadvantaged population in Lexington. Born into poverty Josh has experienced the lack of basic needs and opportunities similar to those he now hopes to help.
According to the Manchester Bidwell website,
Our philosophy originated when founder Bill Strickland met Pittsburgh Public High School art teacher Frank Ross. Ross mentored Strickland through his teen years, impressing upon him the powers of art, education and community, and helping him obtain entrance to the University of Pittsburgh.
While still in college in 1968, Strickland founded Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild to bring arts education and mentorship to inner city youth in his neighborhood. The MCG Youth & Arts program, as it is now called, serves public school students by offering courses in our ceramics, design, digital and photography studios.
Strickland, who has helped replicate over 8 centers in other cities, visited Lexington recently to speak to many individual donors who have become very interested in this initiative. Through more organized efforts, Josh and a very eager community raised over $18,000 through donations many of which were less than $25 hence embracing the motto, “Every dollar truly counts.” What started as his own personal dream is now a shared dream amongst over 270 people, including a passionate, selfless steering committee determined to bring this dream to fruition. Now with the help of so many others in the community, it is no longer about Josh—it is about the movement, the community, and everyone involved.
Some may wonder why Josh wouldn’t replicate Manchester Center where he grew up. When asked why not move back home, he describes what Lexington has became for him: a place of shelter and protection from danger and trouble “a refuge.” The Manchester Bidwell Project just may be his gift — his way of saying thank you to a city that welcomed him with open arms!
Josh continues to accept donations through a wonderful crowd-funding website . Additionally, for more up-to date information on the replication project visit www.mbrplexington.com.