This past Monday I had the great opportunity to assist my employer to tell its story. Every year we invite community residents in the Indianapolis community to an event that is full of food, conversations, and community celebration. This annual event is the Indianapolis Neighborhood Resource Center’s (INRC) Annual Meeting.
This year’s event was no different than years past. We recognized community organizations that did exceptional work collaborating to impact communities, presented our accomplished keynote speaker, and reported on the progress that our organization made through its five signature programs.
After general greetings and recognition of guests, we jumped right into our Collaborative Spirit Awards. INRC’s Collaborative Spirit Awards offers communities an opportunity to showcase the work that they do to improve Indianapolis Neighborhoods.
This year’s three finalists were: Near Westside, Southeast Neighborhoods, & Millersville at Fall Creek Valley. The Near West Side Community Organization developed a community-wide picnic. This was a great means of getting residents connected to the organization and to each other. Several neighborhoods on the southeast side of Indianapolis banded together to form a Southeast Congress. They also developed a website as a medium to keep everyone updated on their work. The winner of the Collaborative Spirit Award, Millersville at Fall Creek Valley, developed four projects. These projects included: a treasured homes tour along with brochure detailing historic aspects of the community, a concert series in partnership with IPS # 106, a farmers market café, and a Greenspace Gateway Beautification Initiative in conjunction with Keep Indianapolis Beautiful. For their great service in the community the winner of the Collaborative Spirit Award received a plaque along with a cash award.
Next, we made way for our keynote speaker. The keynote address was delivered by Indianapolis Star columnist, Matt Tully. He has made a tremendous impact on our community through sharing the tremendous number of opportunities the community has to get involved in Indianapolis Public Schools. Matt Tully offered a heart-warming story of how a desperate local high school needed funding; and how the Indianapolis community rallied to raise ten year’s worth of funding for its theatre program just by attending a single performance. His speech captured the essence of what it means to be a neighbor. It was based on the fact that we can change the reality of inner-city youth if we care enough to get involved.
Our last order of business was to let people know about the progress we made through our work over the past year. Instead of reading from a boring report, we decided to add a little creative flare to our presentation. We adapted the melody of the 1980s chart-topping song ‘Tom’s Diner’. With all original lyrics, we explained the work that we do, as well as its impact. The audience was not only welcoming of our off-the-wall presentation; they joined in with singing and swaying to the infectiously simple tune. After completing our musical rendition, it was clear that INRC was serious about finding new ways to tell its story.
In conclusion, this year’s annual meeting was a success. We connected residents to the work that community organizations are doing, presented one of Indianapolis’s positive forces in local media, and found new ways to tell our story. I think I see a full out theatric production coming, if we hope to top this year’s Annual Meeting.