Togetherhood is a nationwide program started by the YMCA to bring generations together. Communities all over America are using Togetherhood to transform their cities, and now the YMCA of La Porte is joining the cause. The program is all about activating people for good and connecting people from all backgrounds to plan and carry out volunteer projects that address the needs of their community.
Human Resources Manager at American Renolit Corp, Melissa Gruber, talked about the importance of giving back to and investing in the community where you live and work and why American Renolit wanted to be a big part of this project.
“This project is really exciting for American Renolit,” Gruber said. “With it being the first year for the project, we want to get involved in this right away because it's something that’s really going to help to improve the community, and we want to be a part of that.”
Shannon Walker, executive director for association advancement at the La Porte County Family YMCA, saw what Togetherhood was doing for other communities in the United States, and wanted to bring that project home.
“It’s a great opportunity to bring a lot of diverse people together for a common purpose,” Walker said. “We wanted to start off with something small and see what the response was, and we’ve gotten a great response from all of our local employers and a lot of community and employer groups.”
The goal is to start small and make a big impact. Togetherhood will bring members of the community together to accomplish community service projects like painting, landscaping, weeding, and window washing— small things that will hopefully make a big difference and become a part of normal life.
“We will have a team from American Renolit participating in the Togetherhood project. I think it’s great for employees to participate in such an event that helps to promote a nicer, cleaner downtown, and makes it a place that people want to visit,” Gruber said. “When you contribute like that, you’re more likely to take pride in the city and continue to help out throughout the year.”
For the Y, it’s not about a fundraising goal. It’s about bringing people together and getting people out to participate. They have 150 people already signed up, and are hoping for 150 more.
“The number one goal for us is to bring people together and have something collectively impactful to do that beautifies the downtown area,” Walker said. “In terms of fundraising, we’re thankful for all donations, contributions and sponsorships.”
For Gruber and Walker, the reason behind backing Togetherhood is not only professional, but personal as well.
“I grew up here, and now I’m raising my own family here, so it’s really important for me to see this community thrive,” Walker said. “There’s a lot of opportunities right now and in the future for growth in every way.”
“I’m really excited to be a part of it,” Gruber said. “I think it’s wonderful that we have these types of initiatives going on to improve our community. It is great to be involved with this project from the very beginning in La Porte, and I am excited to see how it evolves over the next several years. I believe it will continue to get better and participation will grow every year.“
Angela Rose, Downtown Director for the La Porte Economic Advancement Project, was instrumental in securing funding for the Togetherhood Project.
“I saw an opportunity to apply for a grant through the Office of Community and Rural Affairs for Main Street,” Rose said. “I ended up winning a $5000 grant through a very competitive program.”
The application process required that Rose attend a conference with other applicants and give a presentation in front of a panel of potential investors.
“I think it’s really important for downtown La Porte, specifically, because it shows that we are investing in our town,” she said.
The hope is that the Togetherhood Project cleanup at the end of September will lead to a yearly spring-cleaning tradition.
“This month’s effort is a really important first step toward developing a good base to build from for years to come,” Rose said.
For more information on the La Porte Togetherhood Project, visit www.lpymca.org.