In 2009, 70 PRIDE communities generated $723,606, invested 171,036 volunteer hours, and collaborated with 592 partners to complete 1,183 community improvements.
Kansas PRIDE Builds Community, Sustainability
Kansas’ landscape is dotted with cities and towns, yet it’s the people working on behalf of their communities that make a hometown home, said Dan Kahl, K-State Research and Extension coordinator, speaking on behalf of the Kansas PRIDE Program.
The statewide effort was introduced in 1970 and is co-administered by the Kansas Department of Commerce. To date, it has served more than 400 cities and towns with varying populations.
According to Kahl, enrolling in PRIDE invites public participation. Local PRIDE groups identify common goals, work toward shared benefits, and build social networks that strengthen communication and foster collective decision- making. Projects vary, including recent ones in Lucas and Spearville.
Lucas, population 400, a PRIDE community since 1987, has undertaken numerous projects but is most proud of renovating a local theater that had been vacant for 18 years.
Connie Dougherty, local PRIDE spokesperson, said the community looked to the PRIDE program for help in prioritizing the project and identifying resources to complete the three-phase renovation:
- Phase 1 (1998–2000): Raising $130,000 and contributing more than 4,000 volunteer hours to gut, rebuild, and refurbish the structure.
- Phase 2 (2005–2007): Seeking a $292,485 KAN STEP grant (from the Kansas Department of Commerce) and providing matching volunteer labor (valued at $199,911) to add a basement storm shelter, community room, kitchen, restrooms, and dressing rooms.
- Phase 3 (2009–2010): Raising $86,000 to update projection equipment to digital and three-dimensional technologies.
The theater is operated by volunteers who contribute about 4,000 hours annually. Last year, they served more than 9,000 patrons, including some from 50 or more miles away.
PRIDE volunteers span the generations, as youth are encouraged to get involved and work beside adults of all ages, Dougherty said.
Completing PRIDE projects successfully encourages the community to move forward, said Dougherty. She added that the small city of Lucas is now seeking funding for public restrooms.
Spearville, population 850, has a history of accomplishments during its long-standing association with the PRIDE Program and is currently focusing on health-promoting programs for kindergarten to fifth-grade youth.
According to Gayla Kirmer, local PRIDE spokesperson, the community sought a PRIDE Get It – Do It! grant of up to $3,000 to underwrite a summer program offering physical activity, nutrition and health messages, interaction, and socialization with peers. The grant is offered in cooperation with K-State’s School of Family Studies and Human Services and the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.
At the end of the summer, youth were encouraged to invite family to join the fun and learn about a healthier lifestyle, Kirmer said. When children and families linger, rather than heading for home, PRIDE volunteers know their time has been invested wisely.