It has been almost five years and six months to the day since I first moved to Columbus. I had never considered myself a “small town girl”. I was “big city,” and thoroughly believed my stay here would not be longer than three years. I actively avoided town involvement for the first year. But then… I walked into Coffee on 5th one morning, ordered a caramel macchiato, and sat down at a table facing the window. I watched as unfamiliar faces walked past, and decided, then and there, that I was no longer going to drown in my post-move depression.
I started taking my kids to see Mother Goose at the library almost every week. We went for nature walks at the River Walk. We have never missed a Christmas Parade or Market Street Festival. I started shopping at local boutiques, instead of just shopping on Amazon. I found a stylist here and stopped planning to get my hair done when I was back home. Slowly, Columbus became home. I saw the pieces of this town that make people want to stay, or, in many instances, return.
It was through my desire to familiarize myself with the town in a deeper capacity, that I was introduced to several people that would open my eyes to local needs to which, initially, I had been blind. It was through these connections that I was introduced to Columbus Young Professionals.
My beginning with CYP was, frankly, a selfish one. It was a way for me to make business connections, and that is how I viewed it. As time went on, however, I began to see that our group had the ability to support the community in some substantial ways.
Over the summer, Wilson Beck and I had several conversations on the future of Columbus Young Professionals. We discussed refocusing the group on community service, as that was its initial purpose. We began exploring ways in which to do that, primarily, the re-naming of our group, and removing the age cap.
We landed on the name t.h.r.i.v.e. We felt it encompassed the energy of the group, and removed any stigmas regarding age and location. We then started to consider service opportunities in the area. In this process, two ideas proved to be the most efficacious: a partnership with The Dream Center and a mentorship program for Columbus High School.
I am pleased to announce that on November 19, we will be hosting a career fair at Columbus High School for Juniors and Seniors. We will be matching students with industries in which they may have an interest in working in the future. At this time, we have fourteen local businesses registered for the program. We are looking to add to that list, so I hope you will consider lending your advice to these teens.
We have also partnered with The Dream Center of the Golden Triangle to adopt a block in West Point. The Dream Center was previously located in Columbus, but to accommodate their growth in ministry, recently moved into the old Brian Foods complex in West point. Their mission is to “find a need and fill it, find a hurt and heal it”. This organization provides several ministries to our community, including a rehabilitation program for men, as well as a bed building program for children all over the region. They saw great success with their work in Uptown (also known as North Side) Columbus, and we are very much looking forward to assisting them with this new project. We are collecting items for the children in the neighborhood (winter coats, socks, underwear, winter accessories, and “shoebox gifts”). On December 18th, we will meet at the Dream Center to serve lunch to the neighborhood, and to pass out items to the children.
I also recently met with the new co-director of the Columbus Arts Council, Salem Gibson, to discuss their future. Salem and Shane Kinder (the other director) have some incredible and innovative ideas as to the promotion of the CAC. Between events centered around art development in our local children, and fundraisers that will provide entertainment for our community, there will be no shortage of things to do in the coming months.
On a more personal note, I recently bought a house in Uptown Columbus. I love this neighborhood, but I did notice a lack of communication between neighbors. It was suggested to me that I should start a Neighborhood Association specifically for our North Side residents. So, our first meeting will be held on January 10, from 6-8pm, at Bill Nelson’s Warehouse. The address is 1219 14th Ave. N. More details regarding this meeting will be released as we progress.
This is your opportunity. This is not the moment to sit still and do nothing. This is your chance to be a part of something. To better Columbus for our locals, our children, and their children. This is the moment to move. Move forward. As a united, strong, community.
If you would like to get involved, please email Evie Vidrine at email@example.com.