J.P. Hall, HVNA President receives David Sursa Leadership Award

JP Hall speaking about the Halteman project at the 2023 IDEA Conference

J.P. Hall received the Community Foundation of Muncie and Delaware County’s 2023 David Sursa Leadership Award for his dedicated service to Halteman Village Neighborhood Association. Hall was instrumental in reorganizing the Halteman Village Neighborhood Association into a 501c3 nonprofit in an effort to turn the former private community pool into a public park. He was nominated by the neighborhood association for his work to improve the park, but also for his service to the Muncie Community as a whole. When plans to demolish the neighborhood’s recently closed elementary school were announced, Hall led the neighborhood’s “Kids not Condos” campaign that saw that building ultimately saved and turned into Mitchell Early Childhood and Family Resource Center. To read more about Hall’s work in the community please visit the Community Foundation of Muncie and Delaware County’s award announcement.

Neighborhoods USA Conference Recognizes Muncie

Photo of team that attended the conference to accept the award.

The Muncie team that traveled to the Neighborhoods USA (NUSA) Conference returned with an award, great feedback, and some wonderful neighborhood ideas.

The 48th annual conference, which brings together people/organizations committed to building and strengthening neighborhoods, was held in El Paso, Texas, May 24-27.

The team featured Heather Williams, Ball State Office of Community Engagement associate director and manager of the Building Better Communities Initiative; Krista Flynn, OCE program coordinator and MAP member; Megan “Mo” Orbin of MAP; Mitch Isaacs (executive director of Shafer Leadership Academy, MAP board president), and Dustin Clark (City of Muncie).

They placed fifth in Regional Best Neighborhood Program in the Social Revitalization/Neighborliness category for the IDEA Conference, which brings together leaders representing Muncie’s neighborhoods to develop and strengthen community-building skills.

“I learned that we are a part of a vast national effort to revitalize communities at the grassroots level. It’s not just Muncie that seeks to engage residents; it’s a movement happening across the county, ” Mitch said. “Judges and NUSA board members both commented on our passion for the IDEA Conference. They could tell we love the conference and believe in the impact it has on neighborhood leaders!”

Williams, Flynn, and Orbin also presented “Neighborhoods ARP Funding: Participatory Budgeting in Action” at the conference.

A description of the presentation from the NUSA program described it this way: “The City of Muncie, IN, allocated $1 million to help combat the effects of COVID-19 within Muncie’s neighborhoods. The process that developed to ensure the equitable distribution of those funds focused on residents’ voices and meeting the needs of each individual neighborhood association.”

Krista said it was “exciting to share how Muncie is utilizing the ARP funds.” ”Several folks from our session stayed after to ask more in-depth questions on how they can do the same in their community,” she added. Neighborhoods, USA (NUSA) is a national, non-profit organization committed to building and strengthening neighborhood organizations. Created in 1975 to share information and experiences used to build stronger communities, NUSA continues to encourage networking and information-sharing to facilitate the development of partnerships among neighborhood organizations, government, and the private sector for the ultimate goal of strengthening every neighborhood.

Whitely Community Food Pantry Wins National Award at the NUSA Conference

On Friday, May 25th at the 43rd annual NUSA conference in Birmingham, Alabama, the Whitely Community Food Pantry was named the 2018 Grand Prize winner of the Neighborhood of the Year (NOTY) Award. The food pantry was also awarded first place in the Social Revitalization category of the NOTY. Whitely was recognized for creating a sustainable food pantry, strong partnerships, an educational resource on nutrition, and future-focused projects to combat hunger in the community.

Seeing that over 38% of Whitely Neighborhood residents are living below the poverty level, the food pantry has made it their mission to “resolve the serious problem of food insecurity in our area.” With the 2017 closing of Marsh Grocery, the neighborhood has become a “food dessert” that is lacking quality nourishment for residents and their families.

Whitely has formed partnerships with Second Harvest Food Bank of East Central Indiana to obtain food at a low cost and with Purdue Extension for nutritional information about cooking healthy foods. The food pantry served on average 100 households or 200 individuals each month (nearly 8% of the entire Whitely population) in 2017 alone.

The Whitely Community Food Pantry is held from 4-6 pm the third Thursday of the month at Harvest Christian Fellowship, 1010 E. Centennial. It is open to anyone in the Whitely area or Whitely Community Council members. The food pantry is actively seeking volunteers and financial support. To become a volunteer please contact Jay Zimmerman at pantryprojectwhitely@gmail.com or Mary Dollison at 288-1892. You can also support the pantry through their GoFundMe campaign.

Whitely Community Council Wins National Awards At Neighborhoods, U.S.A. Conference

Awards were presented by NUSA president Tige Watts and accepted by Kenyonta Hudson, Whitely Community Council Executive Director; Cornelius and Mary Dollison; Rebecca Parker, Technology Coordinator for Muncie Public Library; and Frank Scott, Whitely Community Council President.
Article by Erin Moore

Devotion. Commitment. Enthusiasm. Collaboration. Inspiration. Inclusivity. These six words only begin to describe Mary Dollison’s legacy in the Whitely neighborhood and Muncie at-large. Her significant contributions to our community were nationally recognized at the 42nd annual Neighborhoods, U.S.A. (NUSA) conference in Omaha, Nebraska, this May.

Mary was a recipient of NUSA’s “Who’s Who in America’s Neighborhoods” award, which recognizes individuals across the country who promote neighborhood development, participation, and collaboration. Mary’s nominator, Heather Williams of Ball State University’s Building Better Neighborhoods initiative and the Muncie Action Plan, noted her key roles in building the Whitely Community Council which boasts 90-100 attendees at its monthly meetings; creating the Motivate our Minds educational enrichment program; securing support from the city, county, area foundations, Ball State, and the local private sector to reopen Whitely’s Roy C. Buley Community Center and restore the historic Shafer Chapel; and partnering with Ball State faculty to create the award-winning “Schools within the Context of Community” teacher preparation program.

The Whitely Community Council’s Year of Color and monthly newsletter also received first-place prizes at this year’s NUSA conference.

The Year of Color, an ambitious series of public and private beautification projects consisting of painting, planting, repair, and public art installation, was awarded the first-place spot in the “Neighborhood of the Year” Physical Revitalization category. The campaign was successful in drawing positive attention to the neighborhood as well as strengthening relationships and pride among Whitely residents. Project leaders Rebecca Parker and Frank Scott presented the Year of Color to a panel of judges at the NUSA conference.

Whitely’s newsletter took home first place in the monthly newsletter category after being evaluated by a jury panel for content, layout, and overall appearance.

newsletter thumbnail
Click to view the winning newsletter

Whitely Community Council members, Muncie Action Plan’s Aimee Fant, and Building Better Neighborhoods’ Heather Williams were able to attend the conference in person through the generous support of the Ball Brothers Foundation.

“We share [these awards] with every volunteer involved and with our community partners, among them Muncie Parks Department, Muncie Delaware Clean and Beautiful, Ball State Office of Community Engagement, and the Muncie Action Plan,” said Rebecca. “Muncie is doing great things!

The community is invited to celebrate the Whitely Community Council’s success!

WCC Awards Reception
Monday, June 19
6:00 – 8:00 pm
Cornerstone Center for the Arts (520 E Main St, Muncie)