January 17, 2020
The Findlay-Hancock County Community Foundation will once again be hosting Community Conversations, a dialogue with members of the community to determine strengths and weaknesses and build a path forward. The Foundation previously hosted Community Conversations in collaboration with United Way of Hancock County (UWHC) in 2017 and they will offer a supporting role in coordinating and supporting this year’s effort. The report from the previous outreach project is available here.
“We talked with more than 1,000 Hancock County residents in 2017 and we’re hoping to build off of that in 2020,” said Brian Treece, Program Director at The Community Foundation. “Last time the community gave us five priority areas (housing, mental health/substance use, transportation, safety and workforce/financial stability), this time we want to talk specifically about those and what residents think can and should be done with these community priorities.”
Instead of one-off meetings throughout the year, Community Conversations 2020 will take place during one week in the spring. Community Organizers will assist the Foundation in scheduling conversations throughout Hancock County March 29-April 5, 2020. Facilitators will also be hired to meet with small groups to ask pre-determined questions and record what is discussed.
“We intentionally ask the same questions of every group so we can compare and group responses appropriately,” said Treece. “This gives us usable data to report back to the community and present to our board to align our funding.”
Why Should You Participate?
Community members are empowered through the community conversations to share their experiences and concerns with organizations and leadership able to effect change.
“I’m in touch with the everyday person in our community who will often air their frustrations and concerns about the community but feel like their voice doesn’t matter,” said Heather Heilman, Community Impact Director for UWHC. “I cannot stress how important it is for that everyday person to get out to one of these meetings to let their voice be heard because I’ve witnessed first-hand how leadership is influenced by the results from these meetings.”
The compiled results of the conversations are shared with Hancock County leadership across multiple sectors of the community. This includes funding organizations such as the Foundation and UWHC’s board. Results shared from the 2017 with the Foundation board realigned its priorities to include grantmaking in the four major focus areas, started three new field of interest funds and offered several special grant opportunities, resulting in an investment of over $3 million in the priority areas within three years. These results will continue to drive our work and the work of other organizations around the community. In its effort to fulfill its mission of measurably improving people’s lives, UWHC has raised and distributed more than $4 million dollars since the last Community Conversations to collaborative agencies addressing the five areas of concern identified in the results. UWHC has raised additional dollars for youth programming as well as food security efforts.
How Can You Get Involved?
The Community Foundation and United Way is seeking groups willing to participate in conversations, which typically take 60-90 minutes. These groups could be service clubs, neighborhoods, churches, coworkers, or any other group of 8-12 people.
We are also in need of facilitators who can commit to attending one training and participating in several conversations throughout the week, including evenings and weekends. Visit https://www.community-foundation.com/cc2020 to learn more about how to get involved.