To be fully engaged in one’s community, a person needs to know its resources, people and opportunities. For the past few years, an organization in Columbus helped make that possible.
Engage Columbus, a program overseen by Heritage Fund – the Community Foundation of Bartholomew County, assisted newcomers and even longtime residents in connecting with people and organizations in the community.
The three-year pilot program’s roots trace to two Heritage Fund Welcoming Communities studies, in 2004 and 2011. The program comes to an end today, but not before more than 3,000 people from Columbus, across the country and internationally were connected with the community.
Engage Columbus did that by connecting individuals with nonprofits or after-school programs, for example. It also used programs to encourage people to explore Columbus, such as the Love Where You Live challenge, and monthly tours of the community.
Those in charge of the program said they will assess its strengths and weaknesses, and also distribute a survey in the third quarter of this year to seek information that will determine the future of Engage Columbus.
Engage Columbus may return in another form with a similar mission, perhaps with a broader set of outreach programs, services, partnerships and funding.
We hope the important work of Engage Columbus can continue in some form. The previous Welcoming Community studies made it clear that greater efforts were needed, including ensuring that people living in Columbus could make connections, forge new bonds and play a greater role in the community.
Engage Columbus played a key role in helping the community be open and welcoming to both newcomers and established residents. That’s been a benefit to individuals and organizations, and a philosophy that’s important for Columbus to maintain.