Before the pandemic, CFMC worked with a third party to survey every community within Morgan County. Both adults and youth were heard. Once surveys were completed, in-person focus groups were facilitated to dig deeper into desired changes, aspirations, and community concerns. We posted the results here on CFMC’s website: https://cfmconline.org/community-development/. You can read about survey findings by hometown, education level, and from our youth.
We felt very fortunate to have had the privilege to come alongside these communities, small and large, and obtain data that can be used to better what we already love about our hometowns. In the fall of 2021, CFMC hired their first ever Community Development Officer, Jessica Schwarz. She came to us previously serving in Peace Corps and worked with a community foundation in southeastern Ukraine. Small towns, villages and rural communities were environments she was very familiar with in her community development efforts oversees and she already knew Morgan County since she grew up nearby.
2021 began slowly. We were still riding the wave and fallouts from COVID-19 and CFMC funded PPE grants to local schools in 2020 to keep staff and students as safe as possible. Jessica has worked hard to facilitate meetings in local hometowns’ schools, firehouses, and other locations where community members can stay safe and be heard. Relationships and trust take time and CFMC believes we have more work to do with our community centers of influence. The more we hear from the people of our communities the better we can shape the strategic community development plan in the future.
CFMC’s community development efforts mainly focus on social determinants of health: neighborhood environment, economic stability, education, healthcare and food, and community involvement. The purpose is to develop an equitable, comprehensive plan to enhance quality of life for all Morgan County residents, and to build healthier, and more resilient communities through programming, advocacy, and partnerships.
Development efforts are underway in both Mooresville and Martinsville, as well as our smaller communities who often receive less attention and advocacy, such as Morgantown, Eminence, and Monrovia. Our community development efforts also focus on upstream prevention which helps communities become more proactive in how needs are addressed. For example, after several community discussions, Monrovia Middle School’s Principal, Rebecca McPherson, wished to restart the mentoring program originally developed by CFMC in 2019. The program had not fully taken off before the pandemic sent students into remote studies. Thankfully, after much discussion, we are excited to announce that this program will begin again in January 2022.
To read more, visit here: https://cfmconline.org/2021/11/monrovia-mentoring-program-to-restart-in-january/.
In May, CFMC started a new partnership with The Community Foundation of Bloomington and Monroe County and Regional Opportunity Initiatives. This partnership gathered all participating early learning centers, birth to five years of age supporting non-profit organizations and began discussions to improve both availability of birth to five availabilities in Morgan County as well as improving centers’ Paths to Quality Rating. More details are found here: https://cfmconline.org/2021/09/cfmc-leads-early-learning-coalition-in-morgan-county/.
This past fall, you may have seen or experienced Park Venture Morgan County. With the partnerships of Morgan County Public Library, Mooresville Public Library, our parks and county commissioners, Park Venture Morgan County was created. This event featured all our county parks, neighborhood parks and state forests and engaged residents with a safe, family friendly adventure throughout the county. The event hosted over 400 residents of all ages and was also a capacity building opportunity for both libraries using a new patron app, Beanstack, which tracked participation and engaged patrons in adventures and tasks in each park. Read more here: https://cfmconline.org/2021/10/park-venture-morgan-county-explored-by-over-400-people/.
We are looking forward to what 2022 has in store for our community development efforts! Thank you to all our partners, donors and community members who have welcomed Jessica and her efforts to better know each community and their needs.