Author: Fred Atchison (Page 1 of 8)

Economic Development Disguised as Fun

Kim Anspach wants visitors to come to Lawrence and have fun. Anspach is Director 0f the Lawrence Convention and Visitors Bureau, an organization that assists leisure travelers, meetings and events planners, groups, the media and Lawrence residents. Visitor spending has a significant impact on the local economy, bringing in some 41.7 million dollars in tax revenues in 2019. Visitors to Lawrence spend money for lodging, food and beverages, transportation, recreation and shopping. Bureau sales targets include meetings, groups, conferences, reunions and sporting events.

Unmistakably Lawrence” is the brand that has been adopted to show off the resources and appeal of the community. The brand name speaks to the quirky, unexpected, proud, energetic and friendly nature of the community. People come to Lawrence for many reasons and all are encouraged to partake of local culture, including the arts, food, history, recreation and fun. Accordingly, Lawrence ranks at the top of a number of different community ranking lists.

Anspach notes the importance of collaboration and community partners in the work of the bureau. The utilization of social media is also important in promoting Unmistakably Lawrence. The Bureau has a distinguished seven member board and is primarily supported by a lodging tax.

Compassionate Intervention

Child abuse is truly horrifying and yet it happens to one in ten children in our community. The abuser is often a known and trusted individual. Bev Turner, Director of the Douglas County Advocacy Center (CAC), trained to be a teacher and found herself interested in dealing with kids with special needs and problems. She sought an advanced degree and went to work at the CDC. The mission of the CDC is to insure children and families affected by child abuse receive compassionate community based intervention through a multi-disciplinary team approach. Staff work to prevent, identify, investigate, prosecute and treat child mistreatment.

Trained forensic interviewers are utilized and referrals are made to other support agencies. Families and children are guided through the entire process. Turner noted that there have been big improvements on information sharing among agencies in the last decade. The CDC has an annual case load of approximately 120. Funding is primarily from the State, County and various foundations. Staff members who work with these cases also may need counselling and support. The CDC has a distinguished board of local citizens and is one of seventeen such agencies in the State. The CDC welcomes volunteers and financial gifts.

The Best Avenue of Expression

Danny Caine, co-owner of the Raven Bookstore, made a return visit to Lawrence Central Rotary to share his experiences as a poet. Caine’s high school English teacher and T.S. Eliot’s poem “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” stimulated a life long enthusiasm for poetry. He studied English and writing as an undergraduate and was influenced by the poetry of Frank O’Hara and Philip Metres. Poetry became his best avenue of expression. He came to Lawrence in 2014 and earned an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Kansas. He went to work at The Raven Bookstore but continued to write poetry.

Caine describes his poetry as belonging to the school of “The Restless American Landscape.” Caine’s work reflects themes of travel, food and family. He read from several of his works, including “Eldorado Freddy’s,” “Flavor Town,” and “Continental Breakfast.” Caine’s work is often inspired by photographs and conveys both poignancy and humor. He also read from his new work “Picture Window” which was written durning the pandemic. He read poems addressing not going out, the sale of his family home and suburban life. Caine’s account of his poetry journey and his selected readings were very well received. All of the volumes mentioned are available at the Raven Book Store.

Building a Legacy

Philanthropy has accomplished great things for Kansas University, according to Dale Seuferling, President of the Kansas University Endowment Association. The Endowment Association has prospered under his leadership of twenty years, building assets of some three billion dollars. It is a non profit organization with 160 staff members and generates 200 million dollars of annual support for the University. Those funds are used to support endowed professors, scholarships, construction and renovations. Seventy Trusties and an Executive Board provides governance, with the Chancellor serving as an ex officio member. The role of the Endowment Association increases as state aid has decreased through the years.

Some forty per cent of all donations come from out of state and the Endowment Association owns and operates some fifty thousand acres of farm land that produces revenue for the University. Eighty-five per cent of University land was acquired through the Association. Notably, fund transfers to the University are significantly higher than transfers in peer institutions.

Some areas of emphasis include stadium improvements, further development of the KU Cancer Center, and maintaining KU’s membership in the prestigious American Association of Universities. Seuferling plans to retire later in the year, leaving a personal legacy of great accomplishments through the Endowment Association.

Getting a Positive Bright Start

Every child in Douglas County deserves the oportunity to attain their fullest potential, according to Lawrence Central Rotary member Emily Hilding. Hilding is the Development Director for Positive Bright Start (PBS), a non profit organization dedicated to providing specialized early childhood services for children under six and their families. PBS was started in 1972 to address the needs of day care aged children who were not getting services.

Through the years PBS has grown and presently operates five early childhood classrooms and provides therapy services, financial aid and a food program. PBS collaborates with a number of schools and agencies providing services for preschoolers and their families. Hilding has a background of working in early childhood programs, and has served as a coach for teachers and students, utilizing the Positive Behavior Support Model. This model helps children and adults recognize behaviors and provides cues and alternatives to problem behaviors. Positive Bright Start has a staff of twenty-two and is funded by grants and other fundraising efforts.

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