A Tapestry of Connections

Judy Van Dyke - Good Samaritan Ministries

Meet Nancy K., our new Kitchen Coordinator for Park Church’s midweek evening meal and ministry. Nancy has been a neighbor of Park Church for over a decade, but we had not met until the winter of 2010. It is a great story of connecting people; matching the gifts and passions and needs within a neighborhood. I met Nancy’s granddaughter, Sierra, in July of 2009, while walking through the neighborhood for the first time. Sierra, age 8, was a cheerful child; full of stories about her life, family, and adventures on her bicycle. She told us she is living with her dad, Mitch, and her grandmother, Nancy. After a lively conversation we realized Sierra’s love for dogs would come in handy for another neighbor, Helen. Helen was older, and struggled with health issues. Her dog, Skippy, was not getting the exercise and attention it needed, and Sierra was eager to help. We went to Helen’s house, I introduced them, and off they went, Sierra and Skippy; a match made in heaven, literally.

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Rick Droog – Siouxland Diaconal Conference

Kurt & Emily Rietema’s stories of life and love in the Argentine neighborhood of Kansas City, Kansas, and in Croc, Mexico 

Before ye cast your first stone at me, admit it. You, dear reader, are not that different than I. At fundraiser brainstorming sessions, you give an honest attempt, hoping for something new, something novel and innovative. With populist ideals, you hope for the wisdom of the common man to rise up and shame the cynics. You hope for that one, moment of brilliance, like the humble offering of one small boy with a few fishes and loaves of bread, feeding the five thousand again and leaving behind twelve baskets overflowing with fistfuls of twenty dollar bills. But you can sense the suppressed bake sales and 25- cent lemonade stands gasping for air. You brace yourself for it like the frontman in a washed-up, cover band waiting for the drunk guy in the back to start yelling, “Freebird! Freeeebird!!!” Yet it comes just as inevitably. “I think we should do a car wash.” Let’s speak plainly for a moment. Car washes are dumb ideas. Most of us swear them off in fifth grade. And as much as I’ve wanted to put my learning into practice and embrace locals’ ideas and empower and support them in implementing them, my conceit won out. I couldn’t help but think that Mary’s suggestion of a car wash fundraiser for the Franklin Center was a dumb idea. Nate did some quick, careful redirecting that day, but months later, on August 20 there we were in the Franklin Center parking lot. Rain coming down. Washing cars.

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Neighborhood Transformation: How long does it take?

Jay Van Groningen – Executive Director

When I meet with business leaders it is almost guaranteed that I will get a question early in the conversation that goes something like: “How do you measure success”? OR “How do you know you are being successful”?, OR “Define transformation – what does it look like”?

These are really great question. I used to talk about the Seven Dimensions of transformation (see below) and almost immediately I can tell I am losing their interest. (I really hate that – I get anxious when I feel like I am losing them – They don’t have time for “loosey-goosey”, “soft” measurements.) Anything that requires explanation is not stated clearly enough as an indicator of progress. You attain what you measure and if it isn’t clear, the results will be highly suspect.

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