My grandmother was a quilter. For months we would see scraps of material scattered around her chair and spindles of different colors of thread. She diligently worked each day as time allowed. It was impossible to see how these various pieces would come together.
She persevered on her own mostly, except when she met monthly with her friends. It was primarily a time to socialize, share tips on what they had learned from their own sewing experiences, catch up with the latest in the town and have everyone focus their energies on one of the member’s projects.
Typically, about the time I had forgotten about Grandma’s current endeavor, she lovingly presented the finished quilt in all of its handmade glory to one of us for Christmas, a wedding shower or baby shower. It was always beautiful and a testament to her skill and artistic vision. What made it especially precious was that we knew first-hand the hours she poured into it.
The 2018 Neighborhood Organization Volunteer Awards (NOVAs) reminded me of Grandma’s quilts. Everyday people bringing their own skills and abilities to a project. Investing time in stolen moments, nights and weekends. Work done individually and as a group of neighbors wanting to help each other and their community. The bits and pieces may not look like much on their own, but they come together as something truly impressive.
A few of the achievements that were recognized at the banquet hosted by Community Partnership of the Ozarks were the three new neighborhoods that have organized over the past 18 months, $1.3 million invested by Public Works in the Neighborhood Works projects in 13 neighborhoods, four Great Neighborhood designations, countless neighborhood block parties and gatherings and the awards for the Bass Pro Marathon neighborhood cheering sections.
A related accomplishment was that our Springfield topped three other Springfields (Illinois, Massachusetts and Oregon) for percentage increase for voter turnout in the November general election. More engaged citizens is a byproduct of more vibrant neighborhoods.
The 2018 quilt of neighborhood successes was proudly on display at the NOVA banquet and it will keep us warmer through the inevitable cold nights this winter.
The 2019 quilt is just scattered scraps and thread. Together, neighborhoods will look for new ways to address chronic nuisance properties, reduce crime and enhance safety, encourage more investments in single family homes, parks and greenways and strengthen our schools, while never forgetting the powerful impact of simple acts of kindness that neighbors can give one another.
Join us in adding your own stitch or two to this year’s masterpiece!