By Ryan Gueningsman
DELANO, MN A large number of representatives from Delano’s civic organizations attended a “Spirit of Community” breakfast April 24 at the Delano City Hall.
The City of Delano noted civic groups and organizations provide the fabric that makes the Spirit of Community in Delano strong and vibrant.
“These entities provide services, foster community interaction, and protect the very ‘small-town feel’ residents new and old cherish,” according to an information sheet provided at the breakfast.
At the meeting, organization representatives shared what their respective groups have on the table going into the spring and summer seasons.
City officials have established one of their primary goals to help facilitate the activities of its civic groups and organizations.
“By collaborating with its civic groups and organizations to achieve common objectives, the community as a whole will be the ultimate beneficiary of quality services and projects delivered in an efficient and effective manner,” according to the information sheet.
Through its series of Spirit of Community breakfasts, the city is working to facilitate and partner with the city’s civic groups and organizations.
“The community gains with participatory civic groups that provide services and improvements that meet community needs,” according to the information sheet.
The city has tools, resources, and expertise in some areas that many civic groups do not have. When services or projects align, the city works cooperatively with local groups to accomplish efforts that improve the community.
“The city continues to seek additional efforts to use its assets in an effort to further the success stories of local civic groups,” according to the information sheet.
A few of the examples of this partnership and facilitation include:
• Delano Youth Baseball Softball Association: When approached with the challenge of coaches and volunteers struggling with field maintenance, the city utilized its equipment and hired a part-time employee to maintain fields.
The association reimburses the city on an at-cost basis, and volunteers focus on coaching and instructing the 700-plus youth per year in the program.
• Delano Dream Team II: Upon receiving a grant for this community improvement effort, the group needed an entity to act as a fiscal agent. With the city’s staffing and accounting programs, it offered to handle the funds for the group, allowing the group to focus time and efforts on its mission.
• Phone system: A new phone system at the city has allowed 30 excess voicemail accounts to be used by civic groups and organizations, free.
Promotion and recognition of the volunteer efforts within the community are also important.
In a 2010 survey, 93 percent of Delano residents rated the quality of life high. The connection between quality of life and the service provided by community and civic groups is important and cannot be minimized.
The Spirit of Community initiative is based on the belief that as civic groups succeed, the quality of life increases and dependence on governmental services/systems decreases.
The initiative also hopes to encourage civic engagement.
Studies have shown a trend nationwide towards decreased volunteerism and participation in local affairs.
“Delano has bucked this trend, largely because of the many civic groups and organizations, and remains an outlier with high community participation,” according to the information sheet. “Participative residents are engaged residents. Engaged residents build strong communities.”
City officials feel that continuing to have high participation and engagement will be crucial to maintaining the spirit of community and a strong, sustainable city.