As a hectic holiday season winds down and a new year beckons, let us take a moment to reflect on 2018 and to contemplate what’s in store for us as neighbors in the future. Central Neighborhood grew more connected, strong, and safe over the past year. Here’s why I think so:
With the successful resolution of the library house issue, we transitioned from being reactive to being more proactive in 2018. We were the first neighborhood in Valpo to approach the City with specific actionable ideas for the Redevelopment Commission’s neighborhood improvement funds. This led to the creation of a city-wide neighborhood improvement grant program and our receipt of a $3,000 award to enhance the beauty of the pocket triangle park across from Central Elementary.
In addition, we started conversations City officials concerning the rate of tree loss we are experiencing in the neighborhood. This proactive outreach bore some significant fruit. In October, thanks to the remarkable leadership, patience, and persistence from neighbor Mike Pancini and outstanding technical, financial, and logistical support from the City, we planted 38 new trees in common areas throughout the neighborhood. This project will yield benefits for many decades to come. And we intend to do it again in 2019.
2018 also saw the re-opening of our Central Elementary School, after it was closed for extensive renovations and upgrades in the prior year. These investments in our neighborhood school are the result of Central neighbors who’ve fought for its continued survival for decades. It is difficult to overstate just how critical the school is in keeping our neighborhood active and flourishing.
On the social front, we continued the popular Drinks on the Stoop (“DOTS”) series with events hosted in May, by the Carter family, and in October, by Jim Berman and Liz Bryant of the beautifully-renovated and recently-opened Valparaiso Inn bed and breakfast. We also held a block party in coordination with the annual National Night Out community-policing awareness campaign. These events provide the opportunity to create and cultivate better relationships as individuals living together in community.
The strength of our togetherness was, perhaps, best displayed in response to an abhorrent incident of homophobic graffiti around the neighborhood back in July. An immediate and widespread outpouring of support was expressed, with many offers to donate money and time to help clean up the damages. And, thanks to the keen eye and determination of one neighbor in particular, those who caused the damage were caught and paid an appropriate remedy for their misguided deeds.
Finally, we made good progress on our organizational status and governance processes. At the annual members meeting in June, we elected the current slate of voluntary board members, adopted articles of amendment for the corporation, and modified our bylaws. The board now consists of John Albers, Robert Cotton (treasurer), Lesley Grcich (vice president), Gary Hicks (secretary), and yours truly (president). Two of these five board seats will be up for nomination and election at the 2019 annual meeting in June. We also established a new bank account and added a convenient “Donate Now” button to our website, where members and supporters can easily make a voluntary contribution of any size to help further enhance our events, projects, and programs. We decided not to require monetary dues to establish membership eligibility.
The successes achieved in 2018 were only possible through the voluntary efforts and financial contributions of neighbors like you. If you find you have the means to do so, please consider taking one minute to visit the Donate page to make a contribution in support our continuing community activities.
Each of us has our own unique, cherished, and often busy lives. We have loved ones, a circle of friends, work affiliations, and religious, civic, and business endeavors. Through CNA, we strive to add “neighborhood” to that short list of significant connections that enrich us and give our lives meaning and support. We share not only our physical proximity, but also many common interests and values that give our Central Neighborhood such a strong sense of community.
Happy new year,
Central Neighborhood Association, Inc.
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