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RUSC Kinship announces patio project at Pomme de Terre Park

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RUSC Kinship will be selling patio blocks to build a community patio near the shelter at Pomme de Terre Park. The project is – quite literally, said Jeanne Ennen – a concrete way to tie the children of the program to the community that they live in. It also encourages local businesses to invest in the youth of Stevens County. (Submitted Photo)2 / 2

MORRIS — RUSC Kinship is looking for a concrete way to build connections between young people and the residents of Stevens County through a community patio project at Pomme de Terre Park.

Founder Jeanne Ennen and Executive Director Andrea Bobrick kicked off the fundraising project on Thursday, June 9 at the organization's Grow Kids Kinship Garden Gala at the West Central Research and Outreach Center.

RUSC Kinship, a mentoring program connecting kids and mentors in Stevens County, began after Ennen started to think about ways she could help improve the community. While examining struggling areas of Stevens County, Ennen observed that single-parent and low-income families in the region were most affected by a lack of community support. Through her role as a Stevens County Commissioner, Ennen applied for and was awarded a Bush Fellowship Grant that provided initial funding for the organization.

During her presentation on Tuesday night, Ennen said her experience being raised in a single-parent home after her father passed away inspired her to choose the Kinship model for the program. As a young person looking for positive relationships outside of her family, Ennen said she found great value in connections with her community members.

Bobrick's childhood also inspired her to take a position in the RUSC Kinship program. Despite a difficult upbringing, she was able to break from a cycle of poverty through the help of adult mentors in her rural Pennsylvania community.

Bobrick credits her success to community members such as her pastor, who with his wife drove 40 miles every Sunday to pick her up for church, and teachers who encouraged a love in learning that allowed her to become the first person in her family to attend college. These experiences directed her towards a path helping other struggling families do the same for their children.

In working with communities in need, Bobrick said that more often than not it is parents themselves who reach out for help in mentoring programs.

"These are wonderful parents who realize how important it is to have other influences in their children's lives," she said.

RUSC Kinship now matches adult community members with children aged 5 to 17 for a mentoring relationship that lasts at least one year. As the program has grown, its leaders have been looking for ways to leave their mark on the community.

An opportunity for a legacy of positive change developed in conjunction with an improvement project to the shelter at Pomme de Terre Park.

Earlier this year, the city of Morris had to drop plans for a community patio, originally part of a larger renovation project to the shelter, due to the cost of the project.

Diagram of proposed patio designRUSC Kinship decided to revitalize the project as part of a community-wide fundraiser to improve the park and help finance the mentoring program. To finish the 38 by 38 foot patio, they will be selling customizable pavers to community members and local businesses.

The project is — quite literally, said Ennen — a concrete way to tie the children of the program to the community that they live in. It also encourages local businesses to invest in the youth of Stevens County.

"When I first started talking about this, I talked about how it really does take a village to raise a child," said Ennen, "A friend of mine said, 'Yes, but, sometimes it takes a child in need to raise up a community to their full potential."

Community members and businesses interested in contributing to the project have the option to purchase engraved concrete pavers in a variety of sizes.

Outside of the paving company, the project will be completed by entirely local businesses and laborers. The pavers will be sold through the summer and until next year with displays around the community as well as forms available in the RUSC Kinship office. All proceeds from the paver sales will go back into the RUSC Kinship program to continue its services for years to come.

"I want to thank you for investing in these kids," Bobrick said. "Your investment in young people and our community benefits all of us."

For more information on how to contribute to the project, contact the RUSC Kinship office at 320-585-RUSC, rusckinship@gmail.com, or stop by the RUSC Kinship office at 215 Atlantic Avenue in Morris.

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