Neighbor to Neighbor to celebrate 10th anniversary of helping Concordia

May 10, 2019 by

Neighbor to Neighbor will celebrate their 10th anniversary from 3 to 6 p.m. on Friday, May 10, at their facility located at 103 E. 6th Street, Concordia.

The public is invited to celebrate this amazing milestone for the community along with the sisters and volunteers that make this facility come alive. Everyone is invited to tour the center, enjoy refreshments and learn more about Neighbor to Neighbor and the programs, classes, services and activities it provides, all free of charge.

What is Neighbor to Neighbor?

Neighbor to Neighbor was the dream of three sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia who wanted to make a difference in the world. And sometimes making a difference begins in your own backyard.

Neighbor to Neighbor founders Sisters Pat McLennon, Jean Befort and Ramona Medina came up with the idea of a support center for women and women with young children. These founders came up with a plan, approached the Sisters of St. Joseph council, and with the gracious help of the council, the maintenance staff of the Sisters of St. Joseph, volunteers and the community, made the Neighbor to Neighbor of today a reality. Neighbor to Neighbor works closely to coordinate with other community resources so that services are not needlessly duplicated.

“We met with a lot of social agencies before we started to see if there was a need,” Sister Pat said. “We didn’t want to duplicate things that were already being done.”

“It doesn’t even seem possible that it’s been 10 years,” said Sister Jean. “It has far exceeded my expectations.”

The center offers classes in baking, cooking, painting, exercise, sewing and crafting, as well as supervised play times for young children. Many of the women just stop by to enjoy the camaraderie, a cup of coffee, a game of cards and catching up with friends. There are even laundry facilities available. All of the classes are free.

The dream focused on an old building downtown that needed a lot of renovation

“When the sisters approached me about creating a center for women and small children, there wasn’t a clear understanding to me on of how this was going to work,” said Greg Gallagher, facilities manager for the Sisters of St. Joseph. “Sisters Pat, Ramona and Jean shared thoughts and ideas.

“We put them on paper and created a plan, gave the plan to the Motherhouse maintenance staff, and created N2N,” Gallagher said. “What an outstanding creation this ministry became to the community!”

The maintenance staff and volunteers gutted the building and completely redesigned it to be the most useful for the sisters’ needs with a full kitchen, laundry, play room, art studio, offices and storage.

Longtime Concordians may remember earlier uses for the 1888 two-story building: An appliance and TV store, a Sears catalog center, a bar, an upstairs roller-skating rink in the years around World War II and an auto dealership sometime before that.

“We’ve been here for 10 years and haven’t had to repaint a thing,” Sister Pat said. “The women here have really taken care of it. It looks like new.”

Volunteers and community make a difference

Volunteers continue to pay a vital role at Neighbor to Neighbor today, teaching classes, helping in the kitchen and just providing a sympathetic ear.

“The Concordia community has really stepped up to the plate to help us,” Sister Pat said. “That spirit has continued, and has surprised me. We have had volunteers like Theresa Peltier and Sandra Detrixhe that have been with us since practically the beginning.”

Detrixhe has been helping people learn to quilt for nearly all of those 10 years.

“I’ve helped people learn to make their very first quilt. It’s an amazing feeling.” Detrixhe said. “This place is a family, a friendship. I get as much from being here as I give.”

“This is just a fabulous, fabulous place,” volunteer Cynthia Myers said. “We’re lucky to have this facility in our community. It was necessary and needed. I never dreamed we’d have a place like this in Concordia.”

Myrna Shelton, administrative assistant at Neighbor to Neighbor, keeps her hands busy in all the activities.

“I am grateful every day to be here. Every day is different, there is always something new,” Shelton said. “The main thing is to be present and listen to people. There is nothing else I’d rather be doing.”

In 2019, the Neighbor to Neighbor staff transitioned with the addition of new Director Sister Missy Ljungdahl. She returned to Concordia in July and has been learning the ropes and making relationships with the guests and volunteers.

“I love what Neighbor to Neighbor has done for Concordia,” Ljungdahl said. “The sisters have done an exquisite job of creating this place. I want to really listen and see that the needs of the community are met.”

“It has been such a joy to see our women create beauty, whether in painting an crafts and through creating beauty they are able to see their own inner beauty,” said Sister Ramona.

And the women have created friendships and bonds that go beyond just themselves. Many spend time making items to help people in other countries, such as clothing and shoes for children, or items for newborn infants.

“The way they’ve grown to help and support each other is such a surprise,” Sister Pat said. “And it’s been a wonderful ministry for an older group to have something to look forward to every day.

“It’s a dream come true,” Sister Pat continued. “And it’s all because of the people, the community.”

“They are truly present to one another … listening and helping one another,” Sister Ramona said.

For more information about Neighbor to Neighbor, email neighbortoneighbor@csjkansas.org or call 785-262-4215.

Comments

One Response to “Neighbor to Neighbor to celebrate 10th anniversary of helping Concordia”

  1. Carmella Thibault on May 10th, 2019 11:42 am

    Congratulations on this anniversary! Ten years….a feat! Pat, Ramona and Jean —– a great team got it started … then Myrna and now S. Missy! Yes, a time for celebrating and giving thanks for all of you and the great volunteers who have been so faithful!

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