2013 Convoy of Hope provides donations, help and family fun
More than 3,500 Kansas City residents are enjoying generous donations of clothing, shoes, food and even haircuts after attending the fourth annual Convoy of Hope event at Swope Park on Saturday, June 8.
The Green Impact Zone hosted two large tents at the event — one for information about community resources, including child care, housing and mental health; and a job fair tent where volunteers helped 124 residents create resumes and submit online applications for employment.
Nearly 2,000 volunteers from dozens of churches, hospitals and schools handed out information and care packages to help low-income families with basic necessities including meals, health screenings and family portraits.
Convoy of Hope organizers estimate 457 people received haircuts, 500 pairs of shoes were distributed, 532 went through the women's health tent, and everyone received a free bag of groceries when they left the event. Many recipients were so over-burdened with armfuls of donations that volunteers were standing by to help them to their cars.
Kaneisha Hatch, 28, of Kansas City had her hands full with three children as she left with several bags of groceries. Hatch said she visited every tent and took advantage of all that was offered. "The best part was the haircut for my son," she said.
Hatch planned to return for a second go-round so her children could come back to the park and play. The play area offered face painting, balloon animals, horseback riding and games to hundreds of kids.
Volunteer Lee Shepard Sr. from Macedonia Baptist Church of Kansas City, Mo., greeted guests with a smile as they left the event. "It's rewarding to see people getting what they need," he said. This was Shepard's third year to volunteer at the event.
Convoy of Hope is a faith-based, nonprofit organization founded in 1994 that gathers volunteers to respond to disasters and deliver food and supplies to the those in need in the U.S. and abroad.
UMKC to study regeneration efforts in Historic Manheim Park
The University of Missouri-Kansas City urban planning department has committed to helping Historic Manheim Park Neighborhood Association (HMP) "regenerate an urban core neighborhood one house and one block at a time." UMKC Professors Jacob Wagner, PhD, and Michael Frisch, PhD, are creating two new urban planning classes to study what Manheim Park is trying to do. Students in those courses will walk the neighborhood with residents, attend community meetings and facilitate an asset mapping project of human and social capital in the neighborhood. They will also analyze environmental issues and their impact on the physical and mental health of the residents along with infrastructure threats and challenges to the regeneration process.
HMP President Saundra Hayes is excited about the partnership with UMKC and says Manheim Park just needed someone to come along and see beyond the blight. "I believe stars in the universe have lined up over Manheim Park shining bright and smiling at the work and progress of a neighborhood and community that was once thought of as 'unsightly' with all of the blight, crime and boarded up houses, un-kept lots with run-a-way grass and trash and illuminated a 'hidden treasure.' There was so much "blight" here the "jewel" couldn't be seen," she said. The entire HMP neighborhood has recently undergone a health assessment study by Active Living Kansas City (ALKC). The study revealed the top four health challenges within the 36-square blocks of the population.
HMP also received good news from the United Way of Greater Kansas City. They've been awarded a Neighborhood Self Help Grant for $1,325. The grant will help the community purchase equipment needed to remove blight by cutting and maintaining lots, rights-of-way and residents' lawns. HMP will buy a riding lawnmower, weed eaters, and a shed to store the equipment. With this grant, the residents believe their community will be able to make headway with the regeneration efforts going on in Manheim Park — one house and one block at a time — to "build back" a clean, safe, healthy and friendly community. HMP is bordered by 39th St. to Emanuel Cleaver II Blvd to the north and south and Troost to Paseo from the east and west.
Meanwhile, HMP has seated new officers for its Community Leadership Council. Elections were held Saturday, June 8.
Saundra A. Hayes, President
Dr. Seft Hunter, Vice President
Tamra Miller, Secretary
Pastor Jim Dunn, Treasurer
William Bates, Historian Elect
Town Fork Creek receives grant to build leadership
Town Fork Creek (TFC) Neighborhood Association has received a Community Capital Fund (CCF) grant. The group received word last month of the award, which could reach $20,000. TFC will initially receive $15,000. If they can successfully raise an additional $2,000 through â€œcrowdfunding,â€ they will receive a $1,000 bonus and reach the $20,000 total. Crowdfunding allows organizations to raise funds through online social networks. TFC will manage its online campaign through www.Indiegogo.com.
TFC will use the grant funds to continue to build neighborhood leadership capacity, pay for a part-time coordinator and hire a street team to go door-to-door to build communication with residents. TFC is bordered by Cleveland Ave. and Prospect to the east and west and Swope Parkway and 63rd street to the north and south.
Front Row, left to right: Becky Forrest (TFC board president), Mary Kelly (board president, Upper Room)
Congratulations to the EES graduates
Thirty residents successfully completed the Green Impact Zone’s latest Essential Employability Skills (EES) workshop. Graduates were honored with a reception at the zone offices on the last day of the course, Friday, May 17. Friends and family members also gathered to congratulate the participants. EES is a free weeklong training for unemployed and underemployed residents. The session focuses on basic skills for job seekers including interviewing, resume writing, work ethic and proper attire for the workplace.Â
The zone provides each graduate with a certificate of completion. In order to graduate, participants must arrive on time, dress in business attire and demonstrate professionalism each day.
The Green Impact Zone connects EES graduates with local employers looking for job-ready candidates who have the necessary skills to be productive employees. Particular emphasis is placed on contractors doing work within the zone. The zone maintains a list of the graduates and their skillsets for referral when employers call seeking job applicants.
Guest speakers at the EES training included: Steve McClellan of the Local Investment Commission; Pam Cobbins of Connections to Success; Michael Tyler, a motivational speaker and coach; and zone staff. For the first time, Connecting for Good offered computer skills training as part of EES. Â Other partners in the training include the Metropolitan Energy Center; OAI, Inc.; and Connections to Success.
The May session was the sixth EES training held by the Green Impact Zone. To date, 102 residents have graduated from the program and nine have found jobs, with more interviews scheduled to take place. The next EES training will be held in October.
Sidewalk and Tree Q&A
When neighborhood leaders in the Green Impact Zone began drafting strategies to transform the community, infrastructure improvements were high on the list. The Kansas City region secured federal stimulus funds to pay for sidewalk, curb and street improvements that will make it safer and easier for residents to get around. Work is currently underway to repair and replace sidewalks in several neighborhoods in the Green Impact Zone. Unfortunately, in some cases, this means removing mature trees. Learn more»
Work underway at 5008 Prospect training center project
Work is currently underway to turn a vacant building at 5008 Prospect into a valuable community asset. Blue Hills Community Services is leading the project, which will convert the existing 14,168 square-foot structure into a LEED-certified facility with many green features. It will provide office space for small business contractors, along with classroom and meeting space for the community. The Green Impact Zone was instrumental in securing $2.2 million in funding for the project as part of the EnergyWorks KC grant from the U.S. Department of Energy. Learn how minority contractors and area residents are getting involved in this recent story from Fox 4 News. Read more»
A national model
The Green Impact Zone initiative is an effort to concentrate resources — with funding, coordination, and public and private partnerships — in one specific area to demonstrate that a targeted effort can literally transform a community. This national model for place-based investment is now underway in the heart of Kansas City's urban core. More»