Common Ground: Helping to Form Healthy Communities
By: John Parsons
Common Ground recently revisited its mission statement from its inception of over a decade ago. Our mission was, and still is, to help form healthy communities, very simple wording for far reaching meanings. Through using the schools as the connection to families in need; healthy minds, bodies, and spirits are the focus of the group. Today, the focus will be the body’s needs. Over the years we have provided grocery store gift cards to individual families at all five of our adopted schools and weekly food bags to families at Kempton Elementary School. Common Ground provides lice kits and clothing for the school offices to distribute to families as well. The clothing is usually a change of pants for accidents that occur, especially for our 4 and 5-year olds. We also have provided the fixings for a Thanksgiving meal for hundreds of families, most recently ninety families in 2011.
This brings me to a topic that the leaders of Common Ground have been discussing for quite some time: the Thanksgiving turkey dinners. Thanksgiving is one of our country’s most “traditional” holidays with the meal and football games. Okay, maybe just the meal and giving thanks. Common Ground has been helping families carry on the tradition of enjoying a bountiful Thanksgiving. Now the school district has extended it’s Thanksgiving holiday break to the entire week. This is great for families who are traveling or having guests to their own homes, but not so great for families whose children get their best meals of the day from school. Through our recent discussions, we had an epiphany: for about the same amount of donations and food gathering, we could get a week’s worth of food to these families. With our connection to St. Vincent de Paul and the generosity of the three congregations of Common Ground we felt energized to go in a different direction with our Thanksgiving food drive.
Our vision is to offer fresh food including fruits and vegetables, bread and tortillas, and a variety of other foods. This will require many hands over a short period of time. Until then, we are still working out the details of where to get the food and how to deliver it. I have full confidence that the group will be able to synchronize its efforts to make this work. Providing fresh meals for a week to families in need goes with our mission of helping to form healthy communities. Common Ground thanks all of our volunteers for making a difference.