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Transformation Longview held an event in October to get its name out into the community, working with the U.S. Department of Agriculture for a farmers-to-families food drive.

A community group is teaming with the John Maxwell Leadership Foundation to help other nonprofit organizations make Longview a better place to live.

Transformation Longview was formed this summer, growing out of another community group inspired by author, speaker and pastor John C. Maxwell.

Though it is one of many community assistance organizations that started this year, Transformation Longview’s leadership wants to work with and not compete with other such groups.

“We don’t want to replace them,” said member Mark Robinson, who is external affairs director for AEP-Southwestern Electric Power Co. in Longview. “We don’t want to reinvent the wheel.”

Transformation Longview started when pastors and leaders in the community came together under the idea of “imagine what we could accomplish if we didn’t care who got the glory.”

Maxwell spoke to leaders in the community last year, Robinson said.

“He met our pastors and said that this is something special we have in our community,” he said.

The Maxwell Leadership Foundation reached out to provide training and whatever the group may news to make its efforts successful, at no cost, Robinson said.

According to the John Maxwell Leadership Foundation website, the foundation “works in communities to bring together people from all the major streams of influence — business, government, education, health care, sports, arts and entertainment, and the faith-community — to work towards common goals that would make the community better.” The foundation provides values-based leadership lessons in the form of Transformation Tables in a peer-to-peer format, according to its website.

“We want to serve our community by providing Transformation Tables, leadership training, and bringing unity through influencers to accelerate change in East Texas,” Transformation Longview’s Facebook page states.

According to the foundation, leadership is influence, and “we all have SOME degree of influence.”

The goal is to grow leaders in communities.

Longview is one of the first places where the foundation is “launching this full-scale transformation effort in the United States.”

“It’s great to be able to partner with someone who has done this on a global scale,” Robinson said.

Transformation Longview has a “cabinet” with 13 members, and each is organized into “streams” covering business, health, faith, education and community. Robinson is part of the business stream of the Transformation Longview cabinet.

The group’s process has four steps: discover, develop, design and deploy.

Transformation Longview sent out 200 surveys to a wide range of people in the Longview community about what makes the city different from other communities and asking what the community needs.

The cabinet, along with Maxwell Leadership Foundation representatives, narrowed down their focus to the issues that permeate many areas of the community. One area of focus is poverty — specifically, poverty in the 75602 ZIP code, which is South Longview.

The group then developed goals:

Get 1,000 single parents/guardians in the 75602 ZIP code to participate in employment counseling and financial literacy courses;

Get 400 single parents/guardians in the 75602 ZIP code moved into more secure housing; and

Get 10,000 people in Longview to be Transformation Table participants.

“These are big goals,” Robinson said. “Through this values-based training, we can create a culture in the community where people are more giving, more forgiving, better humans.”

Other areas of concern for the group is the local crime rate and infant mortality.

“We know 75602 is experiencing a lot of need there,” Robinson said. “We can help start change in their own area.”

Transformation Longview is still in the design phase and does not have a goal to become another Habitat for Humanity, Heartisans or similar organization in Longview.

Transformation Longview seeks to fill gaps in the community rather than be in competition.

The organization held an event in October to get its name out into the community, working with the U.S. Department of Agriculture for a farmers-to-families food drive.

“If people in our community don’t think poverty is an issue, you need to come to a food drive,” Robinson said. “I was blown away. People sat out since 3:30 a.m. for food.”

He added that the organization is not about individuals or specific influencers.

“It’s about Longview,” Robinson said. “We want to make this a better place to raise your children and to live. This is not for show or for recognition.”

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Courtney Stern is a public safety reporter covering a wide range of topics. She grew up in Baltimore and later earned a journalism degree from the University of Miami. Stern moved to East Texas from Iowa with her husband and two dogs, Pebbles and Bam Bam.