‘Neighbor to Neighbor’ draws excited response

April 16, 2009 by

Sister Jean Befort talks about the planned Neighbor to Neighbor center during Thursday's community forum at the Motherhouse.

Sister Jean Befort talks about the planned Neighbor to Neighbor center during Thursday's community forum at the Motherhouse.

As community members at a “working lunch” Thursday chowed down on sandwiches, chips and potato salad, the topic of most interest was a planned downtown center that may, among other things, teach mothers how to cook for their children.


This was the first time in this series of community forums and working lunches, all hosted by the Sisters of St. Joseph at their Concordia Motherhouse, where the sisters unveiled plans for “Neighbor to Neighbor,” which will open in late 2009 or early 2010 at 103 E. 6th St.


The sisters purchased the building, which was formerly the home of Conn’s TV & Appliances, on April 1 and are now beginning a fundraising drive to renovate and refurbish it. Sisters Pat McLennon, Ramona Medina and Jean Befort, who will operate the new center, all spoke at Thursday’s meeting.


During Thursdays working lunch, Judie Deal, standing, talks with Roberta Lowery and Patrick Sieben about rural transportatio challenges.

During Thursday's working lunch, Judie Deal, standing, talks with Roberta Lowery and Patrick Sieben about rural transportatio challenges.

The three hope to provide what they called “practical, hands-on help” for women and their pre-school children. Services offered at Neighbor to Neighbor will likely include nutrition and parenting classes, workshops on healthy living, personal counseling and information on what help is available through other agencies. The center will also have small facilities to meet what Sister Pat described as “basic needs” — showers, at least two washers and dryers and a small kitchen.


But all three sisters emphasized that whatever help is offered will be tailored to the needs of the women they serve.


The money for the center will all come from private donations. “There will be no government funds,” Sister Pat stressed, “so we can be focused on meeting the needs of women who come to us.”


Sister Ramona added that services and volunteer opportunities will be added and developed as the need for them is identified.


Identifying needs has been a focus throughout the series of meetings the Sisters of St. Joseph began last fall, when the sisters met individually with a variety of community leaders to ask them their views on the most pressing issues facing Concordia and Cloud County. The conclusions from those informal conversations and other research became the basis for a “community needs report” the sisters presented in a forum in mid-January.


Then, in February, the sisters invited the public to join the conversation in two more forums designed to come up with solutions. So far, almost 70 individuals representing 35 organizations and agencies from throughout the community have been involved.


Sue Sutton, left, and Sister Carolyn Teter listen intently Thursday to the discussion in the small group focused on nonviolence and peaceful communication.

Sue Sutton, left, and Sister Carolyn Teter listen intently Thursday to the discussion in the small group focused on nonviolence and peaceful communication.

At Thursday’s working lunch, a number of small groups gave reports on the projects they’ve taken on:


• Sue Sutton of Cloud County Community College, speaking for the group that has focused on nonviolence, said she had dubbed the participants “the old hippies.” She said they will ask local government entities and agencies to proclaim a year of peace, and to focus on classes or workshops designed to help people understand nonviolent communication and ways to resolve conflict.


• Rose Koerber of the Cloud County Medical Center said the small group discussing health care is “in the very beginning stages” of a plan that would create a mid-level clinic for people who cannot afford basic medical care. The county Health Department, the hospital and volunteers would work together to create the collaborative service, she said, and any fees would be based on a sliding scale.


• Judie Deal of OCCK Inc. said her small group hopes to form a larger local committee to push for some form of countywide public transportation. “We’ve been fighting this battle for a lot of years,” she noted.


• Cecelia Thrash of Manna House of Prayer, a part of the group working on creating an updated community resource guide, said the Community Resource Center had just learned it received a grant that will pay for creating an online guide and updating the current printed guide. She had no other details on the grant yet, and expects a fuller report at the next working lunch.


Sisters Jean Rosemarynoski, left, and Marcia Allen, go over the survey results from Thursdays meeting.

Sisters Jean Rosemarynoski, left, and Marcia Allen, go over the survey results from Thursday's meeting.

Sister Marcia Allen, president of the Sisters of St. Joseph and one of the organizers of the forum series, asked those attending Thursday’s meeting to take part in a short survey, primarily aimed at determining whether they see value in the sessions.


The responses were unanimously positive, Sister Marcia said. And most hope to continue the process of meeting every six weeks or so in the large group to report on progress and brainstorm more.


The sisters will host the next session in June, and the small groups will continue to work until then. If you are interested in being a part of any of the groups, you can contact Sister Jean Rosemarynoski by phone at 785-243-2149, or by email at sisterjean@csjkansas.org.


“We discovered (in this process) that we could not only consult, but we could collaborate,” Sister Marcia said at the end of Thursday’s meeting. “It allows our community (of sisters) to give back to the broader community of Concordia and Cloud County.”

Comments

4 Responses to “‘Neighbor to Neighbor’ draws excited response”

  1. Jeanette Wasinger, csj on April 18th, 2009 8:14 pm

    (continued … hit the wrong key) … UNIFYING, COLLABORATIVE EVENT that will have long range benefits. Thank you. Jeanette

  2. Jeanette Wasinger, csj on April 18th, 2009 8:12 pm

    These Neighbor to Neighbor meetings are exciting to read about. The pictures are great, too. I am grateful for the nonviolence thrust. How I would enjoy and appreciate being a part of these meetings. Reading about them so soon after they take place is the next best thing. I think this is a very UNIFYING

  3. Bette Moslander on April 17th, 2009 11:29 am

    I was sorry to miss the meeting of the civic groups because those meetings are always interesting and it is good to be engaged in the conversation with women and men who are serving the people of Cloud County. I am so glad to hear that the plans for rural transportation as well as the possibility of a clinic are still moving along. Both projects are surely needed.

  4. Carm Thibault on April 17th, 2009 7:55 am

    Thanks for this report! It is wonderful to be able to see and read about the gatherings. Your evaluation shows there is is a lot of energy there – working for the good of all. Every group working together… I like Sue’s idea of Concordia declaring a year of peace. Blessings…………thanks.

Feel free to leave a comment...