As 2016 comes to an end, we’re looking back at a few of the highlights from the year. The emphasis here is on “a few” because there were so many great moments. What is most difficult about selecting the highlights is that there have been so many people who have impacted our work. From awesome neighbors who have taught us important insights, to knowledgeable mentors who have coached us along the way, to donors and foundations who have made it possible for us to devote more time and energy to making connections in SoCe. The highlights are numbered, not in importance, but in sequence, starting with January 2016.
Without further ado:
Highlight 5: Hiring Mark and Kristin
2016 began with a grant from the Knight Foundation in partnership with the Wichita Community Foundation, totaling $18,200. The grant allowed us to pay Catherine and I for 10 hours of work each week, and it also allowed us to hire our neighbor Mark Bledsoe and Friends University student Kristin Wade as Connectors to work 10 hours per week. In teams of two we began going door to door, meeting neighbors and asking what skills and interests they had.
As a result of this concentrated door-knocking we’ve learned several very important lessons. We learned that meeting neighbors is nearly impossible when the weather is cold, rainy or hot. We learned that there is too much talent in our neighborhood for four people to discover and connect. And we learned that our founding beliefs are completely true: God has gifted everyone, and as people share their gifts the community becomes stronger!
We also learned that neighborliness is contagious. As folks began to catch on to what we were doing, they naturally began looking for ways they could share their gifts with neighbors, whether it was mowing a neighbor’s yard who wasn’t able to, or cooking a meal to share, or standing beside a neighbor as she grieved the death of a loved one--what we have begun to see is God’s love at work, and it is transforming the narrative of our neighborhood.