A grassroots group of women launched a creative community development organization last year after meeting at a Happy Joe’s restaurant in Eldridge for the Quad Cities Big Table.
“We hosted a Big Table and discussed how we could build a stronger sense of community and engage more with our neighbors,” said Jillian McCleary, co-founder of the North Scott Community Enhancement Project.
The nonprofit organization now prioritizes its efforts in and around three core areas: increase community communication, form a welcoming and inclusive community and grow youth civic engagement.
Led by an eight-woman committee, the North Scott Community Enhancement Project meets every month to identify community needs and ways to address them. Since the first meeting last April, the group has either introduced or advanced the following initiatives to support its mission:
- Youth Civic League connects area elementary school students with volunteer opportunities at retirement communities, food pantries and other locations.
- Blessing Boxes serve as free pantries for those in need throughout the North Scott community.
- RedTable events create a closer-knit community, forge connections and raise awareness through conversation.
- Remembrance Chain, inspired by National Night Out, was held last August to honor students and first responders who have died.
“In the short time since the group launched, hundreds of people have gotten involved,” McCleary said. “This response is reflective of our area’s amazing local entrepreneurs, who have stepped up to collaborate and apply their passion to growing our community.”
The organization also is raising funds for other projects and events through the sale of a “North Scott-Opoly” board game, which allows players to compete to buy their favorite North Scott properties. The game sells for $31 on the nonprofit’s website.
With many new projects and initiatives on the horizon in 2019, “We plan to continue to gather feedback and input from our friends and neighbors, so we can target our resources where the community wants it,” McCleary said. “We see the opportunity for other communities to replicate this program in their areas as well, and we are here to help them get their initiatives off the ground.”