PRIDE Pulls Community Groups Together

From parades to raffles, from walking trails to craft fairs, from community gardens to movies in the park — the Lyndon, Kan., community PRIDE group organizes events for every season.

When Kim Newman accepted the job as Lyndon's city administrator in 2010, the city council directed her to create community-oriented events. As Newman researched programs, she realized that Lyndon had been involved with the Kansas PRIDE program, a partnership among K-State Research and Extension, the Kansas Department of Commerce, and Kansas PRIDE, Inc.

"Lyndon no longer had a Chamber of Commerce and was missing a sense of pride in the community," said Newman. "The council was 100 percent committed to resurrecting the Lyndon PRIDE program and dedicated 1 mill, about $5,700, per year to fund it."

Community support

Through the PRIDE program, K-State Research and Extension works with community volunteers to help them identify projects and develop a plan to accomplish their goals.

Lyndon city clerk Julie Stutzman can't hide her excitement about how the community comes together to host 4th of July, Fall Festival, and Winter Festival events. Other projects include summer movies in the park, a community garden, a road race, and a new walking trail.

Stutzman's husband George shares her enthusiasm and serves as president of Lyndon PRIDE.

"We have a small group of 10–15 people who work really hard to organize events," said Julie Stutzman. "Once the project is underway, we call on community groups to help."

Newman added, "Because we have city funds, we aren't competing with other groups. When we approach a local group to help with an event, they are anxious to get involved. We had 26 groups that worked together on our 2013 Fall Festival."

Community garden

Community members expressed an interest in a community garden, so Newman applied for a grant to start the community garden. The project is administered by K-State Research and Extension and funded through the Kansas Health Foundation.

Evelyn Neier, 4-H Youth Development specialist for K-State Research and Extension, explained that the three-year Kansas Community Gardens Project was created to increase the public and private value of communities. So far, they have awarded 59 grants totaling about $250,000.

Lyndon received $3,750 in 2013 for site preparation and to purchase irrigation equipment and supplies, materials to build raised beds, tools, and signage. The garden is laid out like a flower with a center section and connecting raised beds shaped like petals.

Preserving the produce

The new community garden had a bumper produce crop. Fran Richmond, Frontier Extension District director, helped form a canning club to safely preserve the produce. The district includes Osage and Franklin counties with offices in Lyndon and Ottawa.

"We canned three weekends," said Julie Stutzman. "We gave some away to low-income families and sold it at the farmers market and the Fall Festival."

Stutzman remembered canning with her grandmother and asked Richmond to help her recreate her grandmother's spicy tomato jelly.

"It tasted just like I remembered," remarked Stutzman.

Benefits for all

The entire community benefits from the PRIDE projects. The events draw people from surrounding areas to Lyndon businesses and food vendors. Proceeds from the road race at Winter Festival are donated to a local family, and the walking trail provides a safe recreation opportunity for residents of all ages.

The various events build business relationships and encourage residents to become familiar with local businesses, said Newman.

"Everything we have done this year exceeded our expectations," said Newman. "It's amazing how everyone chips in to help the community."