2018-02-10 / Front Page

Campaign to find our ‘Heart & Soul’


About 35 people attended an organizational meeting for the Cameron County Project, patterned after the Vermont-based Orton Family Foundation’s “Community Heart & Soul” program. Organizer Jessica Herzing explained the need for volunteers and partners to make it a success. About 35 people attended an organizational meeting for the Cameron County Project, patterned after the Vermont-based Orton Family Foundation’s “Community Heart & Soul” program. Organizer Jessica Herzing explained the need for volunteers and partners to make it a success. Business leaders, elected officials and other Cameron County residents recently took the first step toward a community visioning and engagement campaign.

Its blueprint comes from the national “Community Heart & Soul” initiative. Details were spelled out during a recent organizational meeting at the Cameron County Artisan Center, focused on strategically revitalizing a community that has seen its population and economic opportunities shrink in recent years.

Through the Heart & Soul concept, residents collectively identify what they love most about the place they call home and translate those values into a blueprint for collective action.

“This is about finding creative ways to engage with people,” said project director Jessica Herzing. “We want to focus on our strengths, but we need to identify what people would like to see. Every empty storefront and building is an opportunity for growth, rather than a void. This is going to allow our organizations, agencies and non-profits to collaborate.”

A steering committee has begun working on events and activities suggested in a survey last year. Among them are a community dinner and street dance scheduled this summer; and a photo competition, with top entries to be used on a 2019 calendar sold as a Cameron County Community Chest fundraiser and displayed at a dinner later this year.

Committee members will also meet with residents to gather suggestions that will be shared with local organizations.

Herzing said attracting volunteers and partners is the key to a successful campaign, to be known as the Cameron County Project.

“This is an opportunity to change the negativity and instead concentrate on the positive aspects of a community we all love,” Herzing said. “We just need some dedicated people to take on small parts of a larger plan and run with it.”

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