Avedis awards $500K grant to Community Renewal

Vicky O. Misa
The Shawnee News-Star
Pictured, from left, are Director of Friendship Houses Travis Flood; Community Renewal kids club student LaMontre' Teal; Director of Campus Programs Michael Phillips; kids club student Mackensie Roll; Spokelahoma owner Craig McIntyre; and kids club students LaKyra Teal and Madyson Roberts. Some of In February 2020, some of Community Renewal's kids club students participated in Spokelahoma's Gravel Growler race.

The Avedis Foundation has doled out another $500,000 in grant funding this week; its latest recipient is Community Renewal of Pottawatomie County. Avedis also awarded $500,000 to Gateway to Prevention and Recovery.

The funds for Community Renewal will be used to continue its mission of restoring community through intentional relationships.

“The Avedis Foundation is committed to the vision of Community Renewal,” Avedis Foundation President and CEO Dr. Kathy Laster said.

Its ability to network with so many is powerful, she said.

“The evidence of their work is accomplished by building relationships and nurturing neighbors one block and one child at a time,” Laster said. “We are thankful that (Community Renewal Executive Director Brandon Dyer), his faithful staff, and board of directors are dedicated to creating a safe, connected and caring community.”

Dyer said his team is thankful for Avedis Foundation's continued support of the mission of Community Renewal.

“Because of their generous commitment we are able to remain focused on strengthening our community through intentional relationships in local neighborhoods and schools,” he said.

At its inception, the Avedis Foundation sought out programs that would provide the best long-term impact on the health, well-being and quality of life for residents of Pottawatomie County — Community Renewal was one of them.

In 2020 alone, Community Renewal served 1,408 students in Shawnee Public Schools, Pleasant Grove School and McLoud Middle School. And in spite of pandemic conditions in 2020, neighborhoods in Pottawatomie County saw a 100-percent increase in neighborly interactions over 2019; in fact, more interactions were reported in 2020 than the previous two years combined.

“The reason so many people are out walking and feel free to stop and visit… is that we've been trying to make this happen for five years,” Block Leader Craig Walker said. “Now we've got a community where people do that sort of thing.”

Dyer said Community Renewal's ultimate goal is to see a revitalized, connected community with a culture of caring that extends across political, racial and socioeconomic divides, and creates a domino effect that reduces crime, increases economic opportunity and lowers loneliness and isolation.

“Our collective capacity to care unites us as we work toward our 30-year goal of making Shawnee the best place in the country to raise a family,” he said.

For story ideas, questions or concerns, reporter Vicky O. Misa can be reached at vicky.misa@news-star.com.