A common theme we hear lately is “community revitalization.” The conversation usually discusses rehabbing old buildings or sprucing up an area in economic decline with small business loans and grants.
What we don’t hear about too often, though, is revitalizing the people in that community, and the relationships they have with one another.
As the new-ish board of the South Frankfort Neighborhood Association, we knew we had to get that kind of revitalization going, too. South Frankfort is a special place to live, and while the old homes and Capitol view are grand, we wanted to focus on what makes it really special down here in the bowl — the people. Our recent fall picnic was the perfect opportunity to get that ball rolling.
As soon as we set a date for the picnic, the offers of help started rolling in. Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4075 immediately offered a generous donation to help us fund the event. Local musicians Chris Fallis and Dudley Roberts were both quick to agree to play a set, unconcerned whether there would be a good crowd or not. Community nonprofits and their tireless volunteers from every niche were immediately all on board as soon as we reached out, eager to provide info (and swag!) about their invaluable services to all in attendance. Community Que BBQ, true to its name, showed up in grand style, not even charging a minimum in order to help us stay on budget.
A half-dozen Frankfort High School seniors were on hand the entire day, giving up a precious fall Saturday to move gear and tables, paint faces and pumpkins, and generally be available to help out however they could. Kroger West cut us a great deal on bulk pie-pumpkins, ensuring that every kid attending got to paint one and take it home. City Commissioner Eric Whisman was on call every minute helping navigate the park rental, street closure, charitable gaming license steps and a dozen other procedural steps I had not dealt with before.
What we experienced planning and on the day of the picnic was incredible: Community revitalization of the people. Corporations, nonprofits, city officials, local students and neighborhood residents all came together to get a fun event off the ground. It’s exactly what we had hoped would happen, and what makes us, as a board, so happy to be involved in such a special place. It brought out the best in everyone involved and made the first Saturday in October an incredible one for new neighbors and longtime residents alike.
None of it would have been possible without the help of every single person involved, on every level. The overwhelming vibe of the day was not only fun but full of energy and the sense that we, as a community, as South Frankfort, are in an uptick of revitalization ourselves as a population — not just the lovely old structures we care for and call home.
On behalf of the South Frankfort Neighborhood Association Board, I thank all of you for your invaluable contributions to the picnic. We are already looking forward to next year and are energized to keep this momentum of fun and neighborliness going.
A special thanks, in no particular order, goes to Community Que BBQ: VFW Post 4075 and Daryl Casey; Whisman; Frankfort Plant Board; Kroger West; Dave and Irene Vaughn; Fallis; Roberts; Amanda Dunn; FHS Class of 2020 volunteers — Claire Irish, Matthew Logan, Bri Miller, Ronnie Moore, Matthew Mueller and Asha Vorisek; Frankfort Fire Station 1; Brenda Allen; Fran Pinkston; the Stigers Family; and Amber Lee.
Katherine Mueller is a full-time anthropologist working at Kentucky Refugee Ministries and part-time bartender at Sig Luscher Brewery. She is the secretary of the South Frankfort Neighborhood Association and can be reached at email@example.com.