March 9, 2018 10:34:30 AM
Ways to answer the question 'now what?'
First, I want to express my sincere gratitude for your promotion and coverage of the Community Conversation that was hosted by the Lowndes Community Foundation and CREATE on Monday, March 5th. You were right to point out the impressive diversity of the crowd in your editorial on Tuesday, March 6th ("A community conversation; now what?"). Without The Dispatch's interest in and promotion of this event, that turnout would not have been possible. Our community thanks you.
As a response to your question -- "now what?" -- I would like to share the next steps that the Lowndes Community Foundation intends to take. As I shared at the beginning of the forum, one of the Foundation's clearly stated goals was to use the feedback from the Community Conversation to direct its grant-making process in 2018. The end result of this will be additional funds strategically directed to projects addressing those areas of greatest need in Columbus and Lowndes County, as identified by the community (education, community engagement, poverty, leadership, and crime). With assistance from CREATE, the Foundation is also developing plans to coordinate the formation of community-led task forces aimed at addressing the key areas of need.
I certainly agree that we -- as a community -- need to answer the question, "now what?" I also think it is also important to point out that the community should not wait on any single organization to provide direction for addressing all of its major problems.
It is not the role of any single organization or group of people to develop a comprehensive plan for ways our community can address all of the complex problems that exist in Columbus and Lowndes County. There are many fantastic organizations and individuals in our community already working hard every day with a mission to tackle one or more of these complex issues. What these organizations need more than anything is funding and community support. One way the businesses and families in our community can begin answering the question "now what?" is by looking for ways that we can latch on to those organizations already working hard to improve Columbus and Lowndes County.
Anyone who is unsure where to start should consider contributing to the endowment managed by the Lowndes Community Foundation. The Foundation serves as a way for individuals, families, community groups, and businesses to invest in the present and future quality of life for all Lowndes County residents. It achieves this mission through the building of a permanent endowment, encouragement of charitable giving, and support of key community initiatives. Interest generated from the funds invested in the endowment are used to provide grants to local organizations that are already working hard to answer the question posed in your editorial - "now what?"
As you mentioned, this certainly isn't the end. However, if we, as a community, are sitting around waiting for someone to deliver a plan to address all of our problems, we are missing great opportunities to improve Columbus and Lowndes County every day. I encourage residents to plug in now and look for ways to make a difference in an area of need.
Lowndes Community Foundation
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