Building relationships across social class lines is a complex process with many rewards and pitfalls. Best practices gleaned from other national initiatives, asset-based community development, strength-based assessment, a historical movement resulting in significant change, and other research-based material informed the development of the NETworX model. NETworX is based on the Methodist movement which French Theologian Halevy believed provided a “ladder of opportunity” for those experiencing poverty. Weekly classes, accountability, and relationship building were the core of the Methodist movement and are at the core of the NETworX initiative.
Origins of NETworX
NETworX began in North Carolina in 2015 rooted in best practices and wisdom gained from work in other similar initiatives. Others states that had also been engaged in anti-poverty work were interested in beginning something with a more relational core. After prayers for discernment and compassionate disagreement a meeting with several potential stakeholders was held in Atlanta, and the result was the birth of the NETworX initiative. NETworX continues to evolve through the feedback and wisdom of those in NETworX communities providing guidance on every aspect of the initiative.
Model and Strategy
At the model's core are weekly meetings that include shared meals, time for relationship-building and mutual accountability, goal setting, and celebration. Childcare and transportation, frequent barriers to regular participation, are provided as needed without cost. Education around the topics of self- awareness, racial equity, addiction in all of its forms, aspects of privilege, holistic poverty, social capital, the role of personal and community trauma, and community transformation form the topical base of the training classes.
Reciprocal relationships, built over a period, of time, are central and are built through the shared cohort experience and shared vulnerability. Participants support one another as they develop their individual strengths, capacities, and potential. Finally, because the level of transformation desired takes place over time, participants are asked to dedicate 18-36 months to training and relationship building.
What does a NETworX Intentional Community Look Like?
A NETworX Intentional Community is created through cohorts that mirror the community at large. They should be diverse and inclusive of participants from various racial, economic, and social backgrounds invested in personal and community transformation through connection and igniting human transformation.
Who we are
Executive Director of NETworX USA
Debbie is the Executive Director of NETworX USA and serves as the Academic Coordinator for the Doctor of Social Work (DSW) Program at Walden University. Debbie has been involved with NETworX since its inception and with the precursors to NETworX since 2010.
Debbie received her Ph.D. in social work and a Master of Social Work (MSW) from the University of South Carolina. She also has a B.A. in Sociology from the University of North Carolina at Asheville.
Debbie enjoys spending time with her husband Alan, the CEO of RFDCDC, especially in Aruba. She also loves to read good mysteries and snuggle with Shandi and Vinny, two Havenese dogs she and Alan rescued from a puppy mill in South Carolina.
A goal Debbie strives for is to find joy in each day.
“…And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”
Director of Operations
Annette works for NETworX USA as the Director of Operations. She has been involved with NETworX since 2009. Annette is also a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist Associate and uses those systemic principles daily in her role with NETworX.
Annette Received her B.A. from Metropolitan State University, in Minneapolis, MN in Family Studies/Cultural Diversity Awareness.
She received her M.A. from Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota in Human Development with her Focus on Understanding Poverty. And an M.A. from Pfeiffer University’s Marriage and Family Therapy Program.
Annette grew up in Minnesota, and loves living in North Carolina! Her hobbies include hiking, biking, kayaking, pretty much anything in nature. Annette is passionate about travel and experiencing other cultures and foods. One of her life goals is to write a book that someone actually reads.
"If you are tired, keep going.If you are scared, keep going. If you are hungry, keep going. If you want to taste freedom, keep going."
Training and Communications
Crystal has been with NETworX since 2013 first, as a participant, and in 2015 transitioning to staff. She is passionate about the relationships formed at NETworX, with everyone becoming both teacher and student. Crystal currently coordinates the NETworX Yadkin site, as well as working for NETworX NC and NETworX USA in the areas of communications and training. With the tremendous support of her husband and four children (the Fantastic Four), Crystal is working toward her Master's Degree in Social Work with the goal of furthering the work of NETworX. In the little spare time she has, Crystal enjoys spending time in the kitchen with her family passing down recipes and creating brand new ones to help her children to carry on both culture and curiosity for generations to come.
“We have all known the long loneliness, and we have found that the answer is community.”
Volunteer Director of Support Connections
A native of West Virginia, Lee loves being outside, walking, hiking or bicycling. And, he loves singing too. He currently performs in a three-piece combo and as a member of his local church praise band. In the 1970’s, he performed as a strolling musician at Colonial Williamsburg, and has recorded a CD of his own original music.
An insufferable extrovert, Lee loves engaging others in conversations about possibilities. “You could even…..” is a phrase that elicits a groan from his son and wife, as he works to build on what someone has said, often far beyond where they have any interest in going. He recently started a men’s book club called Spirited Civil Discourse, where folks come together at a local restaurant to discuss current issues and ofttimes controversial books.
Lee’s life verse is Eph 2:10. The Latin phrase: VOVATUS ATQUE NON VOCATUS DUES ADERIT is prominently displayed in the Smedley kitchen. Carl Jung had this carved over the front door of his house. It means: “Bidden or not bidden, God is Present”
Rev. Dr. Rob Jennings-Teats
NETworX Western Regional Director
Rev. Dr. Rob Jennings-Teats currently lives with his partner in Carson City, Nevada and is an active participant in the local Carson City NETworX Affiliate. He is a member of the Northern Nevada Home Brew Club and enjoys making craft style beer. He enjoys golf and hiking. His passion is being a watercolor artist. He and his partner are global travelers and he makes a yearly visit to community development projects in S. E. Asia.
He describes himself as a spiritual activist. He continues to speak out to what he sees as the moral issue of our time, the growing divide between the “haves” and the “have-nots.” He maintains a life goal of building relationships and vital community that transcend cultural, class, and ethnic barriers.
“Nothing that is worth doing can be achieved in our lifetime; therefore we must be saved by hope.”
—Reinhold Niebuhr, The Irony of American History.
Program Director of the Capital City C.I.R.C.L.E.S. Initiative
For the past 15 years Steve has been working in the non-profit field working in variety of fields including juvenile rehabilitative programs, domestic violence and sexual assault, volunteer management, community education and organizing, and child protective services. He is excited to be able to use a holistic, long term and relational centered approach of NETworX to create sustainable change.
He went to UNR where he majored in History and since then has put his extremely marketable history major to great use with assortment of random jobs from pizza chef, to machine gun maker, raft guide, construction, and eventually he found a vocation of service in nonprofit sector. He loves to read and browse used bookstores, mountain bike, ski and snowboard, whitewater kayak, target shoot, and search for the elusive ‘good’ horror movie.
He has a passion to work alongside people to help create fulfilling lives and relationships.