Friday, August 24, 2012

A community-wide thank you

By DIANE HENTGES, Director of the Volunteer Center/RSVP at the United Way of Wyandotte County

We had a very successful Back to School Fair on August 4 at the Kansas City Kansas Community College.

Approximately 4,200 people came to the BTSF.  There are a lot of thank you’s that need to be extended.

The planning committee needs a big round of applause.

Members are: Arlana Coleman, A Joy Event Planning LLC; Tony Coleman, Board of Public Utilities; Chiquita Miller, K-State Extension; Karla Strickland, Kansas City Kan., Public Schools; Laura Loveless, Kansas City Kan., Public Library; Patrice Townsend, Board of Public Utilities; Larry Coleman, Mason, lodge 17; Denise Mills, A Better KCK; Beka Mullen, KU School of Medicine; Dr. Greiner, KU Department of Family Medicine; Danielle Thornton, Wyandotte County Health Department; Shelley Coulter, Kansas City Kansas School Foundation for Excellence; Lynnette Booker, community volunteer;  Andrica Wilcoxen, Kansas City Kansas Community College Regional Prevention Center; Mary Beth Gentry, Young Women on the Move; Dola Gabriel, community volunteer; Margaret Steels, Kansas Gas; Marisa Gray, Kansas City Kansas Community College; Carla Green, Kansas City Kansas Community College  Regional Prevention Center; Diane Hentges, United Way of Wyandotte County; Liz Hernandez, KCK Public Schools; and Tina Richardson, KCK Public Schools.

So thank you planning committee for the endless hours of work.

The event needed a location and the Kansas City Kansas Community College allowed the event to happen on their campus for the second year in a row.

The KCKCC Regional Prevention Center and the KCKCC Endowment Association were crucial players as were KCKCC Campus Police and Maintenance and Grounds. The KCK Public Schools District contributions made significant contributions of time, talent, transportation, and food.

The Kansas City Kansas Public Library provided 5,000 free books so each child who attended could take home a book of their choice.

The Wyandotte County Sherriff Deputies were also on site to help KCKCC Campus Police maintain a safe and secure setting for this community event.

Funding was an issue in the weeks just before the event. But, you, the community, and local businesses, rallied to support the Wyandotte Back to School Fair. The Bonner Springs and Legends Speedway Wal-Mart stores volunteered to set up donation barrels.

The community bought and donated supplies, cash or gift cards to ensure that the BTSF would happen. Culvers at the Legends hosted a BTSF night where 10 percent of all food sold from 5-8 p.m. on July 26th was given to the project.

The following community partners provided financial, goods and/or school supply donations: The University of Kansas Hospital, Tri-County Smart Start, AFL-CIO  Tri County Labor, KCK Women’s Chamber of Commerce, the Board of Public Utilities, Premium Water, Holy Cross Lutheran Church of Overland Park, Paces, Inc., Connect the Dottes,  Kansas State C.A.P. Council,  Local No. 31 UAW, Volunteers in Mission at St. James United Methodist Church,  J.E. Dunn, Wal-Mart(Speedway and Bonner Springs), Optum Rx, Sumner High School Classes 1963 and 1967 and significant personal contributions from caring citizens.

Media coverage was provided by  KMBC 9, Fox 41, WDAF-TV4 and KCTV5 and KPRS Radio, KKFI and Radio Disney, The Kansan and Wyandotte Daily newspaper.

During the days leading up to the event and on the day of the BTSF, volunteers were key to making the event a success. 170 volunteers were used and 100 of those on Saturday August 4th.

Teens, families, volunteers as young as 8, grandmothers, moms, dads, school district and college staff volunteered. Representatives from the Widow’s Sons Masonic Lodge No. 17, KU Medical Center medical students, Family Medicine physicians, KU Department of Medicine and Pediatrics, Heart to Heart International, the Wyandotte County Health Department, Holy Cross Lutheran of Overland Park, Good Shepherd Catholic Church of Shawnee, YouthBuild KCK, the KCKCC baseball team and the KCKCC Student Nursing Association all volunteered.

In addition, 70 local organization and agencies from across Wyandotte County provided information on resources to those attending. During the BTSF, over 100 adults registered as first-time voters. Free notary services and Ident-a-Kid were available to visitors.

It was a successful event. Children received school supplies to help them start the school year off on the right track. Thank you to all who worked so hard on this event.

This was truly a community project - a community coming together to meet a need.