Photos: New Hope for Families celebrates 10 years

On Friday evening, the grassy field at 4th and Washington streets in downtown Bloomington played host to a 10-year anniversary celebration.

The non-profit New Hope for Families threw itself and the rest of Bloomington a party—free hamburgers and hotdogs, treats from Chocolate Moose, a car show, tethered hot-air balloon rides from TJV Balloons, and live music.

Leading off the music was King Bee and the Stingers. Their set of original blues numbers was belted out by lead singer Sarah Menefee.  Hank Ruff and the Hellbenders followed up with a mix of country rock covers and originals.

Donations to New Hope for Families to support its work providing a place for families experiencing homelessness can be made through the nonprofit’s website.

Wrapping up the evening with a thank-you message was Emily Pike, executive director at New Hope for Families:

Thank you to all of our volunteers who planned the event and help make it happen. Thank you to all the staff. And you know, I said it earlier, but I’ll say it again. Ten years ago, a family who became homeless in this community had nowhere to go. That’s not true any longer. And we don’t ever want it to be true again. We’re so proud to be a part of this community that says no family, no child should ever sleep outside, live in a car or be separated from their loved ones in order to have the things that they need. Thank you for being a part of this community. Thank you for 10 years of New Hope for families. Here’s to the next 10 Here’s to the next 20. Have a great night. Thank you so much.

More photos after the jump. Continue reading “Photos: New Hope for Families celebrates 10 years”

Opinion: Shalom Community Center adopts a great new name befitting its role as a beacon

Last week, Bloomington’s city council meeting grew a bit contentious when it was revealed that the city’s administration has a notion to rename the planning and transportation department.

Unaware photographers will learn what some people already know: At the heart of the Shalom Center on South Walnut, you will see a reflection of yourself. (Dave Askins/Square Beacon)

The idea is to eliminate “and transportation” from the department’s name. I made a Shakespearean joke of it: A road by any other name would spell a street.

This week’s bigger news about an organizational renaming deserves better than a dumb joke.

On Tuesday night, Shalom Community Center’s executive director, Forrest Gilmore, announced that the local nonprofit, started two decades ago, will now be called Beacon.

The collection of programs that house or prevent homelessness now reaches more than 700 people per a year, according to a press release.

The press release puts it this way: “The spark has grown into a beacon of hope and hospitality in Bloomington, and so the name ‘Beacon’ was chosen to represent this organization and its many programs.

The press release quotes executive director Gilmore: “Our capacity to care has grown so significantly that we needed a new way to express that.” The press release adds, “All our efforts work together to be the light that guides you home.”

Under the umbrella of the name “Beacon” will now fall the various initiatives of the nonprofit, which will keep their individual names: Friend’s Place; Rapid Rehousing; Phil’s Kitchen; Street Outreach, and Crawford Homes. Continue reading “Opinion: Shalom Community Center adopts a great new name befitting its role as a beacon”

Committee set to award $319K to 24 social services nonprofits, formal hearing on May 28

Jack Hopkins Percent Funded

At its meeting last Thursday, Bloomington’s Jack Hopkins social services funding committee settled on a total of $318,795 in funding for requests from 24 different nonprofits.

The formal hearing and announcement of the grant awards is scheduled for May 28. Continue reading “Committee set to award $319K to 24 social services nonprofits, formal hearing on May 28”

Local government officials get requests from social service agencies, small businesses to help soften COVID-19 impact

Last September, a joint meeting of city and county officials was held about the convention center expansion. City councilmember Dave Rollo asked Bloomington’s financial advisor a question about the estimates for future food and beverage tax revenues:

“In the event of an economic downturn, have you factored in a drop in revenue? … Do you have a historical analog that you’ve considered, say 2008?”

The downturn the Bloomington area is now confronting, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, looks different from 2008—for small businesses and non-profits alike. Continue reading “Local government officials get requests from social service agencies, small businesses to help soften COVID-19 impact”

How Bloomington “Citizen Sovereigns” can rescue local media

When I moved to Bloomington late last year, I was glad to find the place still had a daily newspaper. Some towns – like Ann Arbor, Michigan, where I made my home for 22 years – haven’t been as lucky.

Cropped Front Page Herald Times New Owner
The front page of the Herald-Times on Jan. 29, 2019.

Granted, I’ve heard that the Bloomington Herald-Times is a shadow of its former self. It has suffered through several rounds of downsizing tied to financial challenges that are ubiquitous in the newspaper industry. And the owners weren’t local, though Schurz Communications at least was headquartered in Indiana, not on the coasts.

Then in January, Schurz announced plans to sell all its newspaper holdings to GateHouse Media, a New York-based conglomerate. More layoffs quickly followed. The H-T lost two people, one of them long-time photographer Jeremy Hogan. This came on top of an earlier round of layoffs last August, which were likely a prelude to the acquisition. 

It’s worth looking at the implications of these changes, putting them in a broader context.

Beyond that, we need to do more than just snipe at decisions that people in the news industry make. It’s far more productive to explore what we can do as citizens to take control of our local news coverage, enhancing what’s already here and ensuring its future stability.

But first, what are we up against? Continue reading “How Bloomington “Citizen Sovereigns” can rescue local media”