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Community Development

A strong community offers a rich source of fulfillment and empowerment to all of its members. Strong communities are able to connect all of its members to the resources that fulfill human needs which promote health and well being.  Hence, CHEER’s mission is to give people the knowledge and ability to create healthy thriving communities, so that people can experience high quality of life through their own collective efforts.

The importance of the work in our catchment:  In working with the community we find many people who are not well connected to others or involved in their communities.  They lack the supports and connections to meet many of their needs.  Consequently, CHEER conducts outreach to people who are less connected.  We make them aware of resources and opportunities. We provide instruction on how to navigate the institutional systems that offer the services they need. We provide training and supports in civic participation and leadership.

Maple Tree Group

The Maple Tree Group is a group of residents from the Maple Avenue buildings in Takoma Park. The group was formed in Spring 2019 for the purposes of bringing together diverse groups, including Ethiopian and other residents, to learn together about community resources and to plan joint activities for their own enrichment and recreation. The Maple Tree Group conducts activities such as parenting support classes, English conversation classes, and nutrition & fitness classes. Initially, our first planned activity was a community picnic in October 2019 that featured children's games, Ethiopian and other national foods, and national dress. There were about 80 people in attendance. In October 2023, we held our 3rd Annual Maple Avenue Community Picnic with over 200 people in attendance.

In the summer of 2023, the Maple Tree group also expanded to have a teens group.  In the Winter of 2023, the Maple Tree Teens Group held a series of events centered around mental health after hearing from many parents and students about their concerns in the community. Dr. Elilita Demissie (Akukulu Family Mentoring) facilitated conversations centered around topics such as bullying, peer pressure, identity, social media, and navigating cultural differences as an immigrant or part of the second-generation. In January 2024, the teens also watched the Movie "Inside Out" and had an open discussion of their emotions. They also had a youth motivational speaker named Backpack Jeff give a presentation to them and their parents in separate sessions.

Motivational Speaker Speaking to Teens and Parents

Maple Teens Watching "Inside Out"


CONEXO, is a parent leaders group that CHEER helped to organize. They have been an independent and autonomous community group since 2019. They conduct community clean-ups, block parties, appreciation events, and more.  They have been part of the planning and execution process for many Long Branch activities. They have been involved in many advocacy opportunities. For example, community advocacy walks. Members of this group have been instrumental in extending care and service to individuals and families in need in their neighborhood.  If you would like to read more about CONEXO, please click here to check out CONEXO's spotlight feature from the Takoma Foundation.

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CONEXO members providing free food to the community at Energy in the Park 2021

CONEXO at Takoma Park's National Night Out 2021

A CONEXO member's child performing 

community advocacy with Montgomery County Councilmember

Evan Glass during a food distribution

Advocacy Actions in Long Branch in Collaboration With AIM (Action in Montgomery)

CHEER helped host a series of meetings to address the implementation of the new parking program in Quebec Terrace. One goal was to address all the questions that residents had about the issue to the representatives from the Department of Transportation. We also invited community members to participate in a public debate. They were able to  hear from candidates for Governor and Attorney General talk about their plans regarding affordable housing, education, and climate. The main purpose was to learn more about the importance of political participation to prepare residents to be part of the political life of their communities and the nation.


On November 14th 2022, we worked together to hold a community safety meeting with members of the Takoma Park police department. Commander David McBain and Jacob Newman (SS Regional Director) were the main guests. During this meeting, we discussed the status of the implementation of the security camera program in the county, a report on the current community safety status in Long Branch, and police committment to enforcing the parking program at Quebec Terrace.

On November 16th 2022, we hosted an evening community advocacy walk with Delegate Lorig Charkoudian. This walk took place at New Hampshire Estates Elementary School and surrounding neighborhoods streets down Piney Banch Road. We chose an evening time because it's the time when many problems are "visible".  We wanted Delegate Charkoudian to see this. The lack of parking spaces has led to many community safety issues (Ex. tire slashings, physical altercations, verbal threats, car damage, theft of tools & supplies from construction work vans, and residents resorting to sleeping in their cars). We also explored alternatives for solutions and gathered advice about who should be the key people who could help us propose ideas for solutions.

To read the Quebec Terrace Community Meeting Summary, please click here! (Available in English & Spanish)

Long Branch County Executive Forum 2022

On June 29th, CHEER helped host the Long Branch County Executive Forum. We had around 120 participants show up to the forum to support Long Branch by assessing our current candidates. Seven community members came together to come up with seven questions to ask the candidates. They were not shy or hesitant about their participation! We received a lot of postive feedback on social media regarding the good turnout and community engagement. According to a couple of the candidates, this was the biggest candidates' forum they've been to so far! We were very happy to help provide a space for our community to engage with our current candidates to be able to better assess who they would like to represent Long Branch. 

Community Clean Up 

Our community members showed up and showed out with our Empowerment and Leadership Development Team for our community clean up around New Hampshire Estates Elementary School! Every year, CHEER helps to host this event for our community to improve our environment.


If you have any other questions about this program, please contact Vanesa Pinto at

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