Celebrating Our Community Impact Area
I asked Ashley Bieck, the first Director of our Community Impact area, to reflect on our five years of improving children’s nutrition and fitness in the Kansas City community. There is so much to celebrate as we look back at the Impact area, and Ashley does a wonderful job reflecting on this project. I’m so thankful you can read her thoughts about the project!
Has it really been five years? It doesn’t seem that long ago that I chaired the Impact Development Committee, and we were presenting at the September GMM for a vote on the new impact area. I feel like I have been exceptionally blessed to experience something very unique in the League. I was able to do the research for the new impact area through the Impact Development committee, present the research for a vote to membership as chair of that same committee, research pilot program grants through the Community Volunteers and Grants (CV&G) committee, and usher in a brand new impact area by serving as the Director of Community Impact for the first two years. It is amazing to see the genesis of an idea become actionable programs that touch Kansas City families’ lives, as well as our members’ lives.
Looking back, here are some of the memorable moments from implementing a new impact area:
- Gaining the trust the University Academy staff. Building relationships was a core component, if not the most important component, of developing Healthy U, an initiative with seven layers of programming. We had to go from “you want to do what at this school?” to “we can’t wait to try something new next year!” That process was all about building relationships with the staff, teachers, administration and leadership of the school.
- Convincing our community partners we could make a difference. We had to convince Harvesters that we could really distribute 230 backsnacks a week and make it a seamless process. Originally, the largest backsnack distribution in the Kansas City area was 39 backsnacks. We were quadrupling that, and we had to prove that Harvesters could trust our volunteers.
- Educating our members about the impact of childhood obesity. Getting our members up to speed on the issues was a way to get their buy-in. The first year we implemented training blasts on the topic with partner agencies, special sessions for impact area volunteers, statistics in the Inside Scoop and Eblasts, and bringing the Hip Hop Doc (Rani Whitfield, MD) to our community agencies and to a GMM.
- Developing internal leaders and champions who believed in what we were doing. I look back at all the ladies who chaired and served on impact committees in the first two years and am thankful for their leadership. It is hard work to develop relationships and trust. It takes time, commitment, responsiveness and a little bit of feeling comfortable with ambiguity. They are role models to me, and they made an impact, small or big, on all the organizations and families that we touched.