KOSCIUSKO COUNTY — Every social service organization in Kosciusko County, sans Bowen Center, met over the past few days to communicate on how they could enhance their community service efforts. Representatives from each organization met for the “Common Focus” seminar/workshop, led by Jon West of Atlanta Community Food Bank.
Common Focus is a workshop designed to help communities to tackle issues together, rather than separately. “Collectively, we are much more valuable to our community,” said Chad Zaucha, executive director of the Kosciusko County YMCA. With a “common focus,” communities and service providers can come together and have a much greater impact.
The seminar, held at Westminster Hall at Grace College, was invitation-only and focused on an “Asset Based Community Development” model. The model was taken from the book, “When People Care Enough to Act,” by Mike Green. The model seeks to show how relationships are more important than consumers and actions mean more than checkbooks.
With the goal of uniting each social service, Jon West led workshops and seminars that focused on cohesive communication. “We all are an important voice,” said West, “and to move forward, we must realize the abundance of community assets and gifts that we have. We are here to help the community do things together, rather than apart.”
West emphasized the utilization of every asset and working with what the community has in place in order to accomplish what each service wants. He stressed that every company does what they can with what they already have, and that the community work together to run smoothly.
Another key theme of the seminar was turning opinions into action. “Lots of people have opinions,” said Melinda Schwartz, a social service representative. “But what they care about, they will do. We are working toward turning opinions into actions.”
Jon West is the senior manager of strategy and innovation for the Atlanta Community Food Bank. In that role he helps ACFB think and act strategically in ways that foster innovation and support communities, partner organizations and individuals as they mobilize their gifts and resources for collective action against hunger.
Jon has been at ACFB for five years, where prior to his current position he was the organizations first Research and Development Coordinator, executing a 29 county network capacity assessment, launching area-based collaborative groups of service providers and citizens working together to build stronger, hunger resilient communities.
For more information on Common Focus, visit their website.