Category: News (page 1 of 62)

Rotarians Use Technology for Social Good

Mandy Sheldon Lynn, Lieutenant Governor and District Executive for District 5710 joined Lawrence Central Rotary to demonstrate how to access and use Rotary’s various technology tools.

Rotary District 5710’s website provides the information Members need to learn about:

  • District/Global grant applications and management
  • Rotary leadership contacts
  • Club information
  • Speaker ideas
  • …. and much more

By logging in, Rotarians have access to even more, such as managing their profile and information, and directly contacting fellow Rotarians.

Rotary has also gone mobile, with a ClubRunner App, making it easy for Rotarians to find Clubs to visit as they travel and directly contact members in their own Club. These tools make it easier for Members to communicate and partner on fulfilling the Club’s local mission and Rotary’s global priorities.

Doing What Needs to Be Done

There are eighteen different first responder groups serving Douglas County.   These are the people who do what needs to be done when others don’t even want to think about.

These people may be professionals or volunteers.  They include the 911 operator who keeps a suicidal person talking on the phone until help arrives; the patrol officer who gets the victim out of a car despite the danger of a gas line leak; the firefighter who risks a rescue from a burning house before the fire trucks arrive; and the sheriff who risks a gun shot in order to intervene in a domestic dispute.

Since childhood, Michelle Derusseau has admired first responders.  In 2010, she took time to attend the Lawrence Citizen’s Police Academy where she listened to the stories and participated in the type of role play training that professional police receive.

Now, Michelle expresses her admiration by serving as chair of the Valor Awards committee.

Started in 2011, the Valor Awards recognize first responders in Douglas County for their acts of bravery and selflessness in the work of saving lives.  Each September, all first responders and their guests are invited to attend an appreciation banquet where the Valor Awards are presented.  Community contributions fund the event as well as the proceeds from a Valor Golf Tournatment sponsored by Intrust Bank.




Grover Barn and the Underground Railroad

John Brown as portrayed by Kerry Altenbernd told the story.

When Jim Daniels, a slave in Missouri, found that his owner had died, he feared that he and his family would be sold and separated.  Daniels contacted John Brown for help.  Brown brought Daniels and his family out of Missouri to the Grover farm near Lawrence.  The “cargo” of 12 people stayed several nights in the Grover’s new stone barn, then began a journey on the Underground Railway that would take them north and east through Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, and Michigan, en route to freedom in Canada.  The Grovers defied federal law by harboring the fugitives, risking fines and imprisonment.

Judy Sweets, local historian and archivist, has dedicated her energy to researching the Underground Railroad in Douglas County.  She explained that there are originally thirty sites on the Railroad in the area.  Two remain in Lawrence:  the Grover Barn at Stone Barn Terrace and Lawrence Avenue and the Miller Farm at Haskell and 19th Street.

The stone barn was built in 1858 by Joel Grover and his wife Emily on their 180-acre farm located about a mile-and-a-half south and west of the center of Lawrence at the time.  When the Grover family finally left the farm in 1953, the barn was used as a sculpture studio for many years.  In 1981, the Grover Barn was refurbished by the City of Lawrence to serve as Fire Station #4.

Recently, the Guardians of Grover Barn announced that the barn has been designated as a documented Underground Railroad site on the Network to Freedom by the National Park Service.

Lawrence Is a 4-Star Community

Jasmin Moore, Sustainability Director for Douglas County, reminded Rotarians that Lawrence became a national leader in 2016 in quality of life measures, the first community in Kansas to earn a 4-STAR certification.  The STAR measurement framework (“Sustainable Tools for Assessment and Rating”) allows communities to track progress toward improved quality of life against seven sets of objectives–and to compare themselves with others working on similar goals.

Moore defines a sustainable community as one that is economically, environmentally, and socially healthy and resilent.  She uses a four-way test to evaluate sustainability initiatives:

How does it impact environmental health?
How does it impact the well-being of people?
How does it impact relationships, effective government, social justice, and overall livability?
How does it impact the local economy and at what short-term and long-term costs?

Originally from the Kansas City area, Moore chose to study urban planning at KU when she became intrigued with the idea that the built environment of a community influences the health of the community.   After a series of jobs in Colorado, Texas, Arkansas, and Johnson County, she has landed back in Lawrence.  Now she coordinates the City/County collaboration to develop integrated solutions and long-term investments for sustainability.

United We Win!

Jannette Taylor has been President and CEO of United Way of Douglas County for only nine months, but she is clearly the right person to provide strong leadership for the organization.

Prior to coming to Lawrence, Taylor earned a reputation for championing social justice concerns in Omaho, NE.  Among other initiatives, Taylor founded and led a community-based nonprofit, Impact One Community Connection. This small nonprofit worked to provide life-changing services to at-risk youth and young adults.

Now Taylor champions the three areas of focus that the United Way of Douglas County has identified for its efforts in Douglas County:

academic success of all children;
health access for all; and
financial stability of every person.

The 2017 Annual Report tells stories about households dealing with these issues.  It also outlines the scope of these challenges and highlights the ways that United Way has mobilized community resources and developed partnerships to meet them.

Taylor explains that the agency uses the “community impact model” to target resources and avoid duplication of effort.  The model also employs an assessment tool to gather data about needs and results.



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