United Way conducting community block parties


To bring neighbors together and unite the community, Jackson County United Way is throwing a party. And the organization wants to help you throw one, too.

United Way already has had a couple of events at local parks this month, including one at Kasting Park with 150 to 200 people, said Tonja Couch, executive director of county United Way.

Two more parties are planned from 10 a.m. to noon Aug. 3 at Shields Park and from 3:30 to 6 p.m. the same day at Gaiser Park.

But to reach more people where they are at, United Way is looking for residents who would be willing to host block parties in their neighborhoods.

The purpose of a block party is to provide people with an opportunity to get together, meet their neighbors, have fun and talk about what’s going on in the neighborhood and community, Couch said.

“These are an important step in getting people to know each other and provide engaging activities,” she said. “Real connections are made and developed at neighborhood block parties through building neighbor relationships and encouraging others to learn more about valuable resources in the community.”

United Way is providing kits to help plan the parties along with door hangers to invite neighbors, hot dogs and buns to grill and a rock-painting activity for kids. Residents can be asked to contribute side dishes to share and their own table service and drinks, foldout chairs and additional activities such as beanbag toss.

“We want to see a community where we do work together to take care of neighbors and generations,” Couch said.

Connie Hernandez, who owns and operates Mi Casa Mexican Restaurant in Seymour with her husband, Martin, said she is organizing a block party in her neighborhood to meet new people and strengthen relationships.

“For me, we are new to our neighborhood, and in the past, our best relationships come from neighbors, and we want to connect with our neighbors,” she said. “This is important work, so individuals should sign up to create a stronger sense of community.

“Neighbors take care of us and we take care of them,” Hernandez added. “It builds a safer community when you know your neighbors.”

The idea for block parties came out of last year’s community conversation meetings organized by the United Way and Jackson County Public Library. A total of 25 conversations occurred, engaging more than 300 community members, Couch said.

Each meeting was an opportunity for residents to express what kind of community they want Jackson County to be.

Some of the themes that kept coming up included community connectedness and pride, community investment, collaboration and follow through.

Important concerns from the public were growing poverty rates and the working poor, helping people get out of poverty, safety of children and senior citizens, drugs and mental health, a lack of social gatherings and places to go, transportation, quality education and diversity.

“Jackson County residents want a community where people choose to live, a community that is healthy and vibrant with places to go and things to do,” Couch said.

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For information or to sign up to host a neighborhood block party, contact Tonja Couch at 812-522-5450 or by email at [email protected].

Upcoming Jackson County United Way community block parties:

Aug. 3, 10 a.m. to noon at Shields Park and 3:30 to 6 p.m. at Gaiser Park


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