Strong Neighborhood Home moves forward
CHRISTINA CUSUMANO, JULY 1, 2020
Image by Tiffany Blanchette via Daily Journal
What does it mean to be a strong neighborhood? A strong neighborhood provides services within easy reach for its residents, while resident voices are elevated in order to make decisions based on their specific needs. This is what the City of Kankakee, United Way of Kankakee and Iroquois Counties, and Kankakee School District 111 hope to achieve.
Neighborhoods are pockets of a community, with diverse strengths, vulnerabilities, and needs. This partnership is forging new ground as the plans of this mutually transformative initiative take shape.
Where are we now? The 2nd Ward of Kankakee will be the home of Kankakee County's first ever project of this kind. The Strong Neighborhood Home, 591 S. Elm Street, Kankakee, IL was purchased in late May of this year. The City has begun various required inspections and expects to complete them within the next couple of weeks. Renovations on different parts of the home will also take place during this time. Once the house is finished with inspections and renovations to increase accessibility, Kankakee School District 111 will have Gloria Kennedy, Community Project Manager, settled their respective office in the home. With all of the COVID-19 related changes within school systems, it is important that Kankakee School District 111 representatives are in place as soon as possible.
Next on the list? City of Kankakee Police involvement. The City plans to place an officer within the home once Kankakee School District 111 sets up shop. It is essential that our police officers, especially school resource officers, have relationships within the community we are striving to serve. The goal is to have one officer in place at the home; we hope to see the appointed officer create relationships, build trust, and be a resource to the neighborhood.
What to expect? Late summer, the partners of this initiative plan to create open house events to provide the neighborhood with opportunities to get to know the home, conduct surveys and needs assessments, share data, and start creating stronger relationships with the residents of Kankakee's 2nd Ward.
One of the most important aspects of this community resource, this home, is that the partners of this project are different community sectors looking to amplify and elevate the voices of this Kankakee neighborhood. It is our goal to create a space where we listen more than we speak, create relationships instead of implementing a vision we drafted ourselves, and see change come from within versus marching in and taking over.