Positive solutions grow from community forums

February 20, 2009 by

Sister Jean Rosemarynoski spends a few minutes on Thursday reviewing all the participants of the community forums so far.

Sister Jean Rosemarynoski spends a few minutes on Thursday reviewing all the participants of the community forums so far.

With almost 70 individuals representing 35 organizations and agencies now involved, informal conversations, group discussions and “brainstorming” that began last fall are now coming together as solutions.

On Thursday, at the third community forum hosted by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia, proposals ranged from creating a revamped and easy-to-use resource guide of services available to organizing an effort to bring public transportation to Concordia and Cloud County.

“There could not be a better organization spearheading this effort” to identify and seek solutions to some of the community’s pressing needs, Carol Miller of CASA and Hope’s Place told the sisters attending Thursday meeting. “You are unbiased, you are fair, you have no ulterior motives.”
“We have one ulterior motive,” Sister Marcia Allen, president of the Catholic order that has been based in Concordia for 125 years, answered with a laugh. “We want to help make this an even better place for all of us to live.”

Some of the ways to do that, proposed in small groups at the working lunch at sisters’ Motherhouse at 13th and Washington streets, were:

Sister Judy Stephens studies a community resource guide that was handed out at Thursdays forum on at Motherhouse.

Sister Judy Stephens studies a community resource guide that was handed out at Thursday's forum on at Motherhouse.

• Having an organized group from Cloud County attend a Kansas Department of Transportation meeting scheduled this spring in Salina, where funding opportunities for public transportation will be discussed. James Quillen of OCCK Inc. in Concordia was the spokesman for the group making that suggestion.

• Discussing a possible partnership between Cloud County Health Center and the Cloud County Health Department, as well as other organizations, to create an “outreach clinic” for people without health insurance or unable to pay medical bills. Pam Campbell of the Health Center, who spoke for that small group, said those discussions have already begun, as has research into what kind of funding might be available to help pay the costs.

• Surveying unemployed and underemployed workers in the community to see what kinds of jobs they are qualified for and interested in. Kirk Lowell, speaking for his small group, said then the economic development organization he leads, Cloud Corp. “can really focus on bringing those kinds of jobs here.”

• Publishing an up-to-date community resource guide, which would be available both by email and in print, to ensure that both the people who need services and agencies that might help those people are aware of what’s available. Cathy Feriend of the Community Resource Center, who was spokeswoman for that small group, made that proposal.

The issue of a lack of awareness of what services are available throughout Concordia and Cloud County has been raised a number of times by different participants in the forums.

• Improving that communication was at the heart of the small-group report given by Fred Prindaville of Pawnee Mental Health in Concordia. At the previous forums participants had related concerns they’d heard about long waiting times for assessments and a lack of emergency services for people struggling with mental health issues, but on Thursday Prindaville and colleague Matt Myers met with a small group to address specific concerns. “I’ve told other agencies if they hear someone say they can’t get in (for services), call me directly,” Prindaville said. “We are available to everyone.”

Community Resource Center director Cathy Feriend addresses the group at Thursdays working lunch at the Motherhouse, as Sister Marcia Allen looks on.

Community Resource Center director Cathy Feriend addresses the group at Thursday's "working lunch" at the Motherhouse, as Sister Marcia Allen looks on.

Another small group discussed “community discord” and the broader issue of violence in our society. At the end of the discussion Sister Janet Lander spoke for the group: “We have two-thirds of a placemat full of ideas, and we will meet again soon.”

Sister Marcia said the sisters will host another working lunch session, in probably about six weeks, to share progress reports and work on more ideas.

That session, like the previous forums, will be open to the public and hosted by the sisters at the Motherhouse. Individuals are particularly invited to join in. Those wishing to be notified of that meeting are asked to contact Sister Jean Rosemarynoski at 243-2149 or sisterjean@csjkansas.org. You do not have to have attended an earlier meeting to take part in the next session.

The forum process 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, early in February, the sisters invited the public to join the conversation at a second forum. Those attending — mostly representing social service groups and nonprofit agencies and including a few individuals not a member of any organization — took part in a “working lunch” to consider the issues that came up in the report and brainstorm solutions.

Before Thursday’s working lunch some of those who had attended one or both of the earlier forums met to work on details of those solutions.

“You really put some meat on those bones,” Sister Marcia told the group Thursday.


7 Responses to “Positive solutions grow from community forums”

  1. Sr. Eileen Farley on March 17th, 2009 6:08 pm

    In our NV(non-viiolent forums I’d like to see a workbook of the Nonvilent Communication–a Language of life that the
    whole community would be willing to work on together. Wouldn’t we be a peaceful community if all would be willing
    to try. Think we’d be very surprised! I think that book
    is so wonderful and helpful. There’s lots of bibliogra;phy
    of other books that are helpful in the appendex of that

  2. Donna Otter on March 12th, 2009 6:59 pm

    This is so encouraging! Thank you.

  3. Jeanne McKenna on March 12th, 2009 6:30 pm

    Thanks for helping those of us not in Concordia to learn about these ongoing forums. Pictures and narrative make me feel as if I was able to attend! I am with you in spirit.

  4. Jeanette Wasinger, csj on March 11th, 2009 9:53 pm

    What a wonderful way to weave relationships with services together to create fresh possibilities for deepening ministry in Concordia! It is refreshing, hopeful and inspiring. Thank you for the creative report regarding the Community Forums.

  5. Mary Fran Simons on March 10th, 2009 9:09 pm

    How energizing these Community Forums are. It harkens back to our first mission “Divide the city and find out the needs.” This is how our world will be changed. Thank you.

  6. Carm Thibault on March 8th, 2009 10:12 am

    It is great to read about and hear from others about these forums in Concordia! The image that comes: stirring the pot to see what is at the bottom! Whatever is there…..to be seen or worked on will surely come to the top.


  7. Jodi Creten, CSJ on February 21st, 2009 9:16 am

    These forums are so exciting! The charism is alive and well as the “community within the community” searches out the needs of the dear neighbor. Thanks to all involved for keeping those of us at a distance informed and enlivened too!

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