Picnic full of fall fun

Organizing a community event was unknown territory for me, a little daunting but worth exploring. I knew one thing: I wanted to invite families who deal with special needs. Whole families. So that everyone would feel accepted and understood.

I also wanted to have an outside event, so I reserved a park shelter. The one good date available was just before Halloween, so pumpkins and costumes seemed a natural fit.

The result? Picnic in the Park with Pumpkins.

dsc_0065

dsc_0057

I didn’t know how many people to expect. I hoped at least one person would come. About 50 people did.

Thanks to all the families who spent this past Sunday at South Fork Park in Florence. We enjoyed sunshine and a warm breeze. My grill master husband cooked up hot dogs and bratwursts. People set up chairs and blankets and gathered under the shelter to talk and eat.

dsc_0066

We talked about families, schools and concerns about health, medicine and resources. We played yard games, listened to my nephew rock his guitar and broke into a sing-a-long of “Shut Up and Dance with Me.” Superman, a pirate and various other characters were spotted on the playground and basketball courts. Families visited the park’s creek and walking trail.

The day was one of beauty, relationship and wholeness.

dsc_0059

A grant I received from the myNKY Nano Grant Program helped make this great day possible. A big thank you to the people at Skyward and The Center for Great Neighborhoods! They are all about creating community. If you want to know more, I wrote about the program in a previous post.

As one family was leaving the picnic, a man and I talked about how getting out of the house can be a challenge but how valuable the effort is. There was talk at some point in the day of this becoming an annual event.

As I continue on this blogging journey, that might be a road to explore.

dsc_0072

Special Needs NKy awarded grant

Skyward and Center LogosThis blogging journey just took an exciting new turn! Thanks to the people at Skyward and the Center for Great Neighborhoods, I’ve received a grant to upgrade Special Needs Northern Kentucky. To top it off, the grant includes money for a community celebration to launch the improved blog.

The grant is part of the myNKY Nano Grant Program, which awards up to $250 each to projects that propose creative ways to strengthen communities.

While Special Needs Northern Kentucky has had steady traffic from readers connected to its stories, the grant money will pay for changes aimed at making the blog easier to find on the internet. I hope the upgraded blog will create a larger community around the stories of people, events and organizations working to improve the lives of individuals with special needs in Northern Kentucky.

Here’s a bit from my grant application:

“The special needs community is far-reaching and diverse. … My [upgraded] blog would create a web of understanding, connections and support. It would strengthen community by bringing information from around the region into one place. It would open possibilities and provide hope to families who may often feel isolated. It would create understanding in the wider community by bringing these stories to light.”

Well, that’s a tall order. But there seems to be some mysterious drive urging me on. I can explain it about as well as I can explain how to get this blog to show up on search engines. Even while applying for this grant, I felt it. I read over information about the application for weeks, maybe months, and then, as if a kind stranger came along to push my stalled car on a lonely road, I began to move. I wrote my application on deadline day.

I got the full grant amount, and I plan to begin posting on the upgraded Special Needs Northern Kentucky in September. I am not the least bit tech savvy, so I am giving myself plenty of time to make the changes.

As for the community celebration, I’ll update you when the details are finalized. The grant program requires recipients to include in their project a free, publicly accessible element. The grant is also tied to a geographic location — in my case, the Florence area, since that is where I work — so I plan to organize a fall gathering at a local park for families and others with ties to the special needs community.

I plan to organize a fall gathering at a local park for families and others with ties to the special needs community.

In the meantime, I want to thank readers for reading my posts, sharing them and leaving comments. I want to thank those who have signed up to follow the blog. My blog site tracks the number of visitors, and I admit that I check those stats often. (It’s all anonymous, though I can see what country visitors are in.) Your visits are the fuel that keeps me going.

I want to thank the people who’ve talked with me for interviews. Thanks for sharing your stories and trusting me to tell them. It’s an honor. Thank you for inspiring me with your spirit, enthusiasm and hard work.

And I want to thank the people at Skyward and the Center for Great Neighborhoods for the work you do to strengthen Northern Kentucky. Thank you for awarding grants that encourage creativity and build a sense of community. Thanks for helping me travel this road.

cropped-road_trip_by_public_domain_pics-d5tisqi1.jpg