Volunteers needed for a wide variety of community efforts

January 15, 2013 by

People throughout Concordia and Cloud County were challenged Tuesday to step up for their community, both by the man leading the get-out-the-vote effort for the proposed new hospital and by the woman heading up a new program for families struggling financially.

Both presentations were part of the Community Needs Forum “working lunch” at the Nazareth Motherhouse.

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Darrell Hosie, a former Concordia City Commission member who is chairing the Vote Yes campaign for the Cloud County Health Center, said proponents of the proposed facility that would replace the 62-year-old hospital “have done their jobs; they have explained why this is needed and how we can move forward.

“Now it’s time for us, the citizens of Cloud County, to do our jobs,” he said. “We need to learn everything we can about this proposal and then get out on vote on Feb. 26.”

That’s the date of a special countywide election on a proposal to add a 0.75 percent (or three-quarters of 1 percent) retail sales tax to help pay for the $29.8 million hospital near the airport on the east side of Highway 81. As planned, the new hospital would be a one-story, 70,000 square foot facility with up to 25 inpatient beds. Outpatient facilities would be easier to access for patients and staff, and inpatient rooms would be private, with private bathrooms and showers.

“The old building is structurally sound, but it’s completely outdated,” Hosie added. “Medicine has changed a great deal in 60-plus years.”

Hosie was recruiting volunteers to help with the Vote Yes campaign, to do everything from making phone calls to distributing posters and getting information out on social media.

Christina Brodie was also looking for volunteers, as she prepares to launch “Hands Across our Community” in early February.

The goal of Hands Across is to pair people who are struggling financially but want to become self-sufficient with “community coaches” who will take part in the program with them and be there for encouragement and advice.

Hands Across will consist of a series of 13 weekly workshops, followed by monthly meetings that would continue for at least a year and possibly longer.

The “key areas” where volunteers are needed, Brodie said, are on a “curriculum team” that will help develop and refine the content of the workshops, a mentor team of families that will be paired with the class members and a fund-raising team that will find group or organizations willing to “sponsor a meal” to serve during the weekly workshops. A team is also working to ensure there is childcare available during the evening workshops.

“It’s a long-term proposition,” Brodie said, adding that the five families in the first “class” as well as their mentors “have to be in it for the long haul. Building a foundation for a stronger, healthier life isn’t about a single workshop or a single issue.”

Anyone interested in volunteering or sponsoring a meal may contact Brodie at 785/275-2101 or cbrodie@csjkansas.org.

Another speaker scheduled to attend Tuesday’s lunch was Claudette Almaraz, coordinator of the new Kansas Loan Pool Project of Catholic Charities of Northern Kansas. But due to a last-minute family emergency, Almaraz was unable to attend.

Other project updates Tuesday included:

• The Concordia Year of Peace, which began in September 2009 and will continue through 2013. Sister Janet Lander, who serves on the Year of Peace Committee, said the theme for this year is “Unsung Heroes of Peace. The twice-monthly columns in the Blade-Empire, written by people of all ages from throughout the community, will continue, as will the monthly radio spots on KNCK. The 2013 Civility Pledge drive is also under way (CLICK HERE for a downloadable pledge to print out and sign) and other activities are being planned.

• The annual Motherhouse Spaghetti Dinner is set for Sunday, March 17, and many St. Patrick’s Day activities have been added this year, said Holly Brown of the sister’s Development Office. Tickets will be available soon, and you can reserve them by sending Brown an email at hbrown@csjkansas.org.
• Manna House of Prayer has begun its celebration of its 35th anniversary in Concordia, and Sister Betty Suther reported that the first “First Mondays at Manna” special fund-raising dinner was a success. These themed dinners celebrate the Sisters of St. Joseph’s heritage, and for the first meal — on Jan. 7 — 50 diners enjoyed an elegant sit-down French dinner. The next First Monday at Manna will be Feb. 4, featuring New Orleans cuisine in celebration of Mardi Gras. Reservations must be made by Jan. 31, by calling Manna House at 785/243-4428.
• There are plots available in the Concordia Community Garden of Hope, Cecilia Thrash reported. An organizational meeting for this year’s gardeners is set for 6 p.m. Monday, Feb. 11, at the Motherhouse. To find out more or to reserve a plot, call Thrash at 785/243-4428.
• Reading with Leaders, a series of storytelling sessions for pre-schoolers, began in September 2012 and will continue through May, reported Lois Lervold of the sisters’ Neighborhood Initiatives office.  For a complete schedule, CLICK HERE, or call Neigbhor to Neighbor at 785/262-4215 for more information.
This was the 21st session in the Community Needs Forum, a process that started in the fall of 2008 with informal lunches with the Sisters of St. Joseph. In addition to identifying what participants see as the greatest needs in the community, the meetings have established smaller groups to seek solutions. The quarterly “working lunches” provide on an opportunity for updates on projects and a clearinghouse for new ideas. You do not have to have attended an earlier session to join the process.
The next working lunch is scheduled for April 17 at the Motherhouse, and everyone is invited to attend. Lunch is provided without charge by the Sisters of St. Joseph, and those planning to come are asked to RSVP to 243-2149 or sisterjean@csjkansas.org.

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