Array of projects show ‘working lunches’ are working

April 29, 2010 by

Thursday’s “working lunch” at the Nazareth Motherhouse proved that the series of community meetings really is about working and not just about lunch.

Some 45 participants took part in reports on projects that have grown out of the meetings, which began in January 2009. Thursday’s session was the 10th in the series, designed to identify community challenges and seek solutions by encouraging people and groups to work together.

Reports at Thursday’s lunch included:

• Nearly two dozen gardeners have signed up for plots in the new Concordia Community Garden of Hope, on the northeast corner of the Motherhouse project. There are 26 plots — each 12-by-46 feet — available in the garden, and 23 have been claimed by local gardeners. Anyone interested in signing up for one of the remaining plots, or volunteering to help out at the garden, may call Cecelia Thrash or Sister Betty Suther at 785-243-4428.

• “There’s still a lot of life in the Year of Peace Committee,” according to Sister Jean Rosemarynoski, who led the discussion in that small group. The effort began last September with a proclamation by Mayor Greg Hattan and has continued with projects, workshops and speakers, as well as weekly columns written by people throughout Concordia and published in the Blade-Empire.

In June, the committee is sponsoring a showing and discussion of the classic western “High Noon,” and in July will present a lecture and discussion by author and peace activist Dr. Terrence Rynne.

• Crystal Paredes announced a new grant program for Concordia, specifically aimed at helping children in foster care or from low-income families gain access to college. “Kansas Kids @ Gear-Up” is part of the national Gear-Up program, with funding through the U.S. Department of Education. Hosted by Wichita State University, the first Kansas Kids @ Gear-Up office is in Topeka, and the second is opening in Concordia.

• The Sisters of St. Joseph announced they will host the Concordia Festival of Trees this coming December. The congregation’s Development Office is planning the event, and director Martha Bryant is working to get local groups and organizations involved. Proceeds from the fund-raising event would then go back to the groups and organizations that participated. For more information on the plans, or to volunteer in any way for the December event, call Bryant at 785-243-2113, ext. 1225, or email her at mbryant@csjkansas.org.

• Cecelia Thrash from Manna House of Prayer provided the group with details about the upcoming “Prayer and Action” program offered by the Catholic Diocese of Salina. Up to 60 teen volunteers will be in Concordia during June and early July to help residents with chores around their homes. For more information, call Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church at 785-243-1099.

The small groups also came together to discuss a possible survey of low-income people in Cloud County, to get a better idea of what services now being provided are most important and what other kinds of additional services or assistance people would find most useful.

“The idea is to mentor and assist people wherever we can,” explained Sister Marcia Allen, who has been working as part of the smaller group addressing issues of poverty. “We want to find ways to help, but not just in handouts.”

Local social service agencies would be asked to help identify people to be included in the survey, and residents would be asked to volunteer to complete the interviews.

The next “working lunch” in the series is scheduled for June 23. You do not have to have attended earlier forums to join the process, and those planning to come are asked to RSVP to Sister Jean Rosemarynoski at 785-243-2149 or sisterjean@csjkansas.org.

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