Changemakers at Work

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Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.

We are the change that we seek. Meet a few of the people answering the call.

On cover: Naee Williams, Jackson Swearer, and Lynsey Becher


D I V E R S I T Y, E Q U I T Y A N D I N C L U S I O N Naee Williams, 20; Mahleah Dianá Marie Marshall-Guest, 14; David Sotelo, 23; and Auhneiyce Grissom, 18, are among the community’s emerging young leaders building relationships and working together for the future they wish to see. Naee helped organize this summer’s Black Lives Matter protest at the Reno County Courthouse and recently joined Hutch in Harmony as head organizer. Mahleah is active in the NAACP Youth chapter’s initiative to educate others about African American history, with hopes to expand the program to reach even more people. The chapter, of which Auhneiyce is also a member, helps organize community events, such as this summer’s Juneteenth celebration and Bridgebuilders Barbecue. David and Auhneiyce are also members of the Hutchinson Human Relations Commission board, a body that advises the City Council in the prevention and elimination of discrimination. We are excited to see how their drive and commitment shape our community.

Mahleah Dianá Marie Marshall-Guest, David Sotelo and Auhneiyce Grissom


ENTREPRENEURSHIP

Jackson Swearer, Michael and Heather Jobe, and Shane Iwashige

The journey to making Reno County an entrepreneurial hub began in 2017 with the formation of the Entrepreneurship Task Force and continued in 2019 with an investment from the city of Hutchinson, Reno County, Hutchinson Community College and Hutchinson Community Foundation in the establishment of an entrepreneurship navigator. The latest stop on that road has been the transformation of the Quest Center into StartUp Hutch and the addition of Jackson Swearer as the navigator and director. We are keeping our eye on how this effort infuses new energy into our smallbusiness sector, fostering an environment where local entrepreneurs with vested interests in the community and its people, such as Aleesa Bath & Body owners Michael and Heather Jobe and The Rock Group owner Shane Iwashige, will work to ensure it continues to thrive.

CRISIS SUPPORT SYSTEM Representatives from nonprofit agencies providing support services to those in need along with members of area faith organizations have been engaging in small-group collaborations and experiments throughout the community, seeking a more unified, less traumatic and more harmonious network of support for those in crisis. Shawna Logue with The Salvation Army, Marietta Yoder with Hands of Christ and Denice Gilliland-Burbank with United Way of Reno County are just a few of the people in Reno County working on better ways to walk with people out of crisis and into thriving, resilient lives. How their work coalesces into collective action has the potential to transform our community.

Shawna Logue, Marietta Yoder and Denice Gilliland-Burbank


DOWNTOWN HUTCHINSON

The latest phase in Hutchinson’s economic development strategy is the designation of Downtown Hutchinson as a featured neighborhood through the Hutchinson Healthy Neighborhoods Initiative. Under the designation, Hutch Rec and the Hutchinson/Reno County Chamber of Commerce are collaborating to improve the marketability and livability of the neighborhood for entrepreneurs and residents, such as Logan Lawson, owner and founder of Sensor Dynamix, who recently settled his home and software business in the former Avenue B fire station. Through the efforts of Lacie Janzen with the Chamber and Adam Stewart with Hutch Rec, upcoming steps for the neighborhood will be an action plan developed with input from business and building owners, data assessment, and neighborhood gatherings.

Lacie Janzen, Logan Lawson and Adam Stewart

R U R A L R E N O C O U N T Y C H I L D C A R E I N I T I AT I V E S With a lack of private pre-kindergarten child care options for rural Reno County residents, leaders of the Fairfield, Pretty Prairie and Haven school districts knew they had to innovate to find licensed solutions for families. Experiments over the years have led to incremental additions of licensed classrooms at the districts, giving children and their working parents a boost. At Fairfield, the 3- and 4-year-old programs designed by directors Janice Williams and Debra Zongker have become a model for other districts in the state, according to Superintendent Betsy McKinney. And Principal Darrin SanRomani says those efforts are showing up in better academic outcomes as the children advance.

Janice Williams, Betsy McKinney, Darrin SanRomani and Debra Zongker


THE ARTS After arriving at a crossroads, the Hutchinson/Reno County Arts and Humanities Council has found renewed energy under the umbrella of Hutch Rec and its new arts and humanities programmer, Veronika Nelson. Her work has led to the formation of the Heartland Arts and Culture Collective, a support network of and for community artists like resident Jocelyn Woodson. These developments will no doubt intersect in the coming months as artists and local venues, such as Stage 9, led by Lynsey Becher, and the Hutchinson Art Center, led by Patrick Calvillo, seek ways to thrive in the wake of COVID-19.

Veronika Nelson, Patrick Calvillo, Lynsey Becher and Jocelyn Woodson


Dear Friends, As a group of learners, we took notes as the doers stepped forth during this year like none other to fill in the gaps that widened amid the upheaval. Their agility in dealing with ever-shifting circumstances and a willingness to try different things inspired us. We observed the gritty work ethic of those people essential to the function of our society: the medical workers, the Reno County Health Department staff, the social service agencies,

Dell Marie Shanahan Swearer, Kourtney Lane, Wendy Skellenger, Amy Crockett, Sarah Blake, Aubrey Abbott Patterson, and Kari and Sydney Mailloux

and our retail and service sector workforces. We also watched teachers, children and parents adjust to online instruction and homeschooling and saw USD 308 innovate to continue delivering the school-lunch program at makeshift drive-thrus. Hutchinson resident Lovella Kelly organized safe, socially distanced food drives on Main Street, and local entrepreneur Salt City Brewing Co. changed its production process to make hand sanitizer for first-responders. Stage 9 and the Hutchinson Art Center reached audiences through two production collaborations, and Family Community Theatre and Hutch Post found common purpose with a throwback to the radio melodrama. And we cannot forget the generosity of the community that supported Rally Reno County, a campaign that placed $150,000 into the hands of local businesses and families affected by the pandemic. Nor can we forget that same generosity demonstrated on Match Day when donors sent $511,595 to area nonprofit organizations. These changemakers stayed curious to the possibilities, leveraged the resources at hand and did the hard things to care for our community. As we continue working to achieve a thriving and resilient place for all residents, we will keep these lessons in mind along with the efforts highlighted in these pages of some people we believe are changemakers to watch. May their work ignite a desire within others to be changemakers, too.

Sincerely,

Hutchinson Community Foundation board and staff


P.O. Box 298 Hutchinson, KS 67504-0298

RETURN SERVICE REQUESTED

Countless people and organizations work hard to make Reno County the home of our dreams. Whether leading the charge, or making magic happen behind the scenes, each person who works to make a stronger, more resilient community is essential to our progress.

Know of someone who deserves a shoutout? Email wendy@hutchcf.org to nominate a Changemaker to be featured on our website and Facebook page.