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While Nancy Monroe is a former teacher, she has always preferred the learning side of education. The local volunteer has two bachelor's degrees in wildly different subjects and enjoys her church group studies on everything from cultures to racial justice. The life-long learning aspect is what drew her to Allies in Community.
"Allies has given me this wonderful way of learning and being around other people," she said.
Now in its second year, Allies in Community — a workshop-based community engagement initiative through the City of Coppell focused on servant leadership and cultural inclusion — is continuing to build a network of informed, collaborative, and welcoming Coppellians.
The group brings together people from all cultures and walks of life to not only learn about each other, but provide insight from their own backgrounds, generational viewpoints, and knowledge of Coppell. This equal give and take among members creates and sustains a dialog, understanding, and even friendships between people that may not have met otherwise.
A more than 20-year resident of Coppell, Monroe brings a varied, service-oriented background and an open, inquiring mind to the group. Her work experience includes teaching French and history in the tight-knit Rio Grande Valley for several years along with a second career in interior design and event planning. The two combined have given Monroe a unique perspective on everything from community to immigration, along with a knack for seeking out what's most important to others.
"It was a huge cultural difference for me," she said about living and teaching in the Rio Grande Valley. "It changed the way I feel about a lot of things."
However, one of her largest influences is her church. Monroe grew up in the Methodist church and it continues to be a cornerstone in her life. She sings in the choir, is an active participant in United Methodist Women, and even met her husband at a small neighborhood church in Dallas. She has seen it evolve from a solely charity-based mission to one that focuses on both educating its members and concentrating hands on service efforts on social issues.
"We have studies about different areas of world — looking at the history of countries and cultures and how they have suffered in different ways," she said about United Methodist Women. "We're all trying to do better. You have setbacks throughout history, but you have to keep moving forward."
While the church is doing good, it is pretty homogenous, she said, as many religious groups tend to be. She wanted to do something a little different to get to know her neighbors and expand her learning.
"You don't get to know each other unless you take that extra step," she said.
Monroe has enjoyed all of her volunteering experiences in Coppell including working in the Community Gardens, clearing trails at Andy Brown Park, and mentoring students in Coppell ISD schools, but Allies in Community is something different than she's done before. It provided a path for her to grow and contribute to the community in a way that will have a lasting ripple effect.
"We all have a bias, but you can learn to appreciate the different ways people see things," she said. "It (Allies) gives everybody a say in what happens in their town and Coppell has become a pretty special place for everybody in Allies."
The Allies in Community program is application-based and seeks new members each summer. For more information, please visit coppelltx.gov/allies.