Pictured from left to right: Shannon Bond, Lionel Baldwin, Arshen Baldwin, Jacqueline Dorsey, Sharde Shade, Robert G. Johnson, Hamshim Kelley
Photo by Melissa Lile

After violence rocked Saginaw in the fall of 2009, some residents marched the streets in protest, while others more quietly planned behind the scenes for change. Among these activists was Robert G. Johnson, a Delta College student and founding member and current president of the nonprofit Communities Working 2gether (CW2), whose mission is "to unite with community organizations and leaders and promote literacy, mentorship, self-esteem, restoration of family, community involvement and education, and to help the underprivileged."

Transforming talk into action is what CW2 is all about, and the 32-year-old Johnson, who had previously mentored students at Thompson Middle School through the Family Youth Initiative (FYI), knows what commitment means. He also understands that by bringing the force of various organizations together, the results achieved are greater. So, rather than reinventing the wheel, CW2 helps existing organizations work together better by partnering with them and lending the talent and energy of its members.

Since its creation, CW2 has collaborated with many schools, businesses and organizations—the YMCA of Saginaw, for one—in such activities as clothing and toy drives and a family bowling night, all to gather items and raise funds to meet the needs of disadvantaged families. Two other organizations partnering with CW2 are the Christian Youth Fellowship Association of Saginaw (CYFAS) and the Great Lakes Bay Regional Leadership Institute (GLBRLI). The former is active in helping local churches train leaders to mentor children and teens, while the latter trains adults to be good leaders.

With an active roster of 15 and many more as-needed volunteers, CW2 has many plans in the works. These include holding a bottled water drive and a penny drive for Haiti planned with several Delta College clubs, running the food and clothing pantry at Good Neighbors Mission, and  helping with a parenting workshop on February 6th, from 10am-2pm at the Annex Event Center, 3435 Sheridan Rd., Saginaw.

"Attitude reflects leadership, " Johnson says. "We are all leaders in some area of our lives, and in order for our community to be healed, we need to take care of our community." Pragmatic but optimistic, he adds, "We need to set a positive example, and if we show positive leadership, we'll be able to solve alot of the problems in our community."

"We definitely need to work together," says Johnson. He and his colleagues are always willing to consider ideas to further the organization's mission, and they invite the public to participate at whatever level possible. "We need to volunteer to help out without being asked. We need to take the initiative." Whether high school students, the elderly, or well-meaning citizens any age inbetween, CW2 wants to harness the energy of well-meaning people ready to make a difference. 

For more information, please visit or e-mail communitiesworking2gether[at]

© Jeanne Lesinski, 2010