Thrive sets countywide community conversation



July 29, 2015 - 12:00 AM

Thrive Allen County will host one of its most important community conversations to date on the evenings of Aug. 10 and 11 at B&W Trailer Hitches in Humboldt.
For nearly a decade now, Thrive has accumulated a record of success in its efforts to improve the general health and wellness of Allen County.
Thrive’s latest initiative, however, broadens the conversation, and invites the community to identify the top overall priorities facing Allen County (the conversation may include the theme of health and wellness, but will not be limited by it).
Billed as “visioning” forums, August’s meet-ups offer a chance to pinpoint these most pressing challenges facing the county and then, with the aid of professional consultants from across the country, create a countywide plan of action for solving them.
It’s a rare opportunity. The Kansas Health Foundation — in coordination with the Center for Global Policy Solutions — after a highly competitive process, selected only five state organizations to receive their “Community Engagement Initiative” grant.
Thrive Allen County was one of the groups, and the only truly rural organization on that list.
The grant earned the county more than $350,000 in funds to be used toward the projects that emerge from next month’s discussions.
Which is to say, the hard part is done; the backing is already in place. The challenge now is to inspire Allen Countians of every stripe to participate in the solutions which will help to improve not only their quality of life, and their neighbor’s quality of life, but positively influence the reputation of Allen County in the decades to come. 
Damaris Kunkler, Thrive’s longtime program director, and the point person on the CEI project, has devoted herself in recent months to making it as easy to attend this crucial two-day meeting as possible.
Transportation  and day care will be provided. Food will be available at the event. And guided tours of B&W’s state-of-the-art facilities will be on offer for all who attend. 
The strength of the countywide conversation will be gauged, in part, by the number of citizens who turn out.
“This is a resident-led initiative,” explained Kunkler, and the solutions which emerge from the meetings will bear the imprint of all the individuals who choose to attend.
It’s important to Kunkler, and to Thrive, to receive participation from every town in the county as well as from all of its rural corners.
Thrive has long held regular community conversations in the handful of towns across the county.
“I am excited to get all of those conversations in one room,” said Kunkler, “[speaking] as one voice for Allen County.
“That Monday and Tuesday will be a celebration, a really unique opportunity to make an impact where we live.”
The meetings are Aug. 10, from 5 to 8:30 p.m. (including food and factory tours) and Aug. 11, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Contact Thrive for more information, 365-8128.

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