NEWBERRY — Community leaders had decisions to make Tuesday during another Cultivating Community event, as their funding will run out in September. The group was originally funded by a CAST grant.
Motivational speaker Charles Weathers, with The Weathers group out of Columbia, asked the leaders where they believed they saw themselves heading after the funding was no longer available.
The options Weathers presented to the group were to call it quits, make themselves their own non-profit organization, or they could keep working on a regular basis, sharing accesses and information with one another.
Theresa Halfacre with Hospice Care of Tri County, recommended they not become an organization, simply because of the added guidelines they would have to follow.
“Rather than become an organization, we become a family,” Halfacre said.
Matt DeWitt, assistant city manager, agreed by saying the group had already shown its value and had been doing things they wanted it to do.
“You should be creating that culture where the next generations can see it,” Weathers said.
Weathers asked the group what initiatives and successes they felt had come from the meetings, which began in August 2012.
A junior leadership program, made up of about 25 students, Mayor Foster Senn said he felt was a great accomplishment, which teaches high school students leadership in and out of the classroom.
Michelle Long with the Newberry Chamber of Commerce said the Young Professionals Socials had really sparked interest in the downtown Newberry area, saying that they had received called from family members saying their children would really love to move back into the area if there were events for their age group.
“Our initial goal of the group was met,” Long said, “But we still have a lot to do to further that.”
Other initiatives included the suicide prevention training that came about from a deputy in Laurens that noticed kids in high schools there who participated in under-aged drinking and substance abuse led to high depression and they lost 13-14 students in an 18 month period, according to Tom Perry with Westview Behavioral Center.
“Together, we have engaged in courageous conversations and have developed a level of trust that can translate into a vision of a healthy, thriving Newberry County that works for all of its citizens,” Perry said.
A healthy, thriving Newberry County is just part of the mission of the Cultivating Community meetings that the group hopes to continue, even past their grant funding.
Whether it be eating healthy, domestic violence, teen pregnancy, the group desires to work together toward any goal that would promote a healthy county for Newberry citizens.
“The sessions have been good, productive discussions of issues in Newberry County and what the community can do to improve in those areas,” Senn said. “Going forward, I look for the group to continue to identify needs and then seeing what can we do to improve on those issues by bringing groups and individuals together to work on it.”