I've worked for Ballard Community Services now for just a few days shy of a year. It's tough to get my mind around all that I've learned. It's been a crash course in the Lawrence community. I've been elbows deep in community resources, social services, families, and, well, love.
I'm constantly overwhelmed at what our community is willing to do to help its own. Our families benefit from the dedication of people they've never met and will never meet. They benefit from people who donate time and money, from people who work at community organizations who have dedicated their lives (usually for meager pay) to working behind the scenes and/or in the trenches for families and children in various states of need. They do it for the individual families, but also because they know what I now know: it's good for the community. Strong and healthy families are the key to a better Lawrence.
For example, check out our upcoming Family Health and Safety Fair. We began thinking about this project when we were discussing how to further the efforts at health and wellness we began when we were awarded the five Garden Incubator plots behind the Ballard Center. We are the happy recipients of a Root for Food curriculum provided by a grant through Farmers, Families, and Educators United and the support of the Douglas County Child Development Association. Through that group, we were also able to set up a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) for our families through which to pick up bags of fresh, locally grown produce every week throughout the summer. So, we had the food angle pretty much covered. But health and wellness are not just about food. They're about adequate medical care, about mental health, about physical activity, and about economics. And we knew there were so many resources out there to help our families access the other realms of health and safety, we just had to put them in touch.
The Kansas Health Literacy Project donated some of their wonderful books, "What To Do When Your Child Gets Sick," which I'll be writing about in a later column. So we knew we'd be distributing the books to every family, and giving a brief tutorial on how to use them. But we wanted more, so we started making phone calls. And friends, it was easy. We used funds raised by The Lawrence St. Patrick's Day Parade to purchase some healthy snacks and buy a few prizes (like a FitBit!) to give away. Cottin's Hardware donated some tables. Pinnacle Career Institute said they'd be here to give some chair massages and talk about education and health. And the participants started just rolling in.
Lawrence Memorial Hospital, SafeKids of Douglas County, Heartland Community Health, Healthcare Access, Douglas County Dental Clinic, Genesis Gym, Body Boutique, Maggie's Farm, Douglas County Fire and Medical, Headquarters, Bert Nash... the list goes on. They all happily agreed to come share information and resources with our community. How cool is that!!
The event - on June 7 from 4 to 6 - is open to the entire community - we're not hoarding these resources just for ourselves. Please feel free to come experience the synergy of Lawrence, KS. All these people in one place, helping each other help the community. Brings a tear to my eye.