Community Development – How Do We Give Our Smaller Communities a Voice and Deliver?

All Communities Matter

The Community Foundation of Morgan County (CFMC) meets community members all over the county in their own neighborhoods to hear various concerns and their own perceptions on the quality of life in their own community. In these conversations, we dive into the good, the bad, and the ugly. While attending a meeting at a diner in Morgantown, we asked community members who passed by our picnic bench, “If you were to brag about your community, what would you say?”

Jenna shared, “Morgantown has no recreational facilities for youth. The youth hang out at the cemetery to skateboard, but the older generation finds it disrespectful. Youth tell us that if they had unlimited money to make life in Morgan County better, they would build youth centers, improve recreational centers to make them more teen-friendly, and revitalize gym-type areas with basketball courts, skateparks, or pools.”

Brad expressed the following, “I would love to brag about our businesses downtown. We have a variety of specialty shops and a clean and safe library. My only concern is that the closest healthcare facility is 21 miles from town, and many of our residents lack transportation.” 26% of Morgantown residents reported a lack of dental and general medical care. A general lack of transportation services has been an issue for Morgan County residents without a car for years.

This year, CFMC released our first-ever community development grant series called Thrive. Thrive grants are intended to improve quality of life through social determinants of health focusing on neighborhood environment, healthcare, economic stability, education, and community involvement. Quality of life is an overarching community development term defined by what keeps residents happy to live and work in their community. These metrics give us specific indicators of where we are as a community and a county, and how we can improve residents’ quality of life, minimize health risks, and function better as people and one community. Thrive grants are awarded to inclusive, permanent initiatives and have community buy-in by matching requested dollars.

Jenna and Brad are fictional characters based on real community conversations.

Data provided by The Community Foundation of Morgan County’s 2019 Community Survey.

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