A group of residents living in a local apartment complex joined together to provide a Back to School Bash for children in the community.
“It’s the first year for us to try something like this,” Valley View Volunteer Program President Jennifer Young said.
Just a couple months into its inception, residents have used the program to get those living in the complex to become part of a larger community, starting with flower plantings and cookouts and then into the back to school bash, which they hope serves as a building block for more plans in the future.
“We’re taking ideas and turning them into reality,” Young said. “This shows we’re a community that comes together as one. We really care about each other.”
Young said while the volunteer program has officers, all residents are invited to attend monthly meetings, offer their ideas and suggestions, and then help make them happen.
Rhonda Kohler, a mother of a school-age child, thought of the idea for the Back to School Bash and with help from the other residents, with the support of donations from throughout the city, they put the Saturday afternoon event together with games, music, raffle prizes, food and drinks. The bash, which began at 2 p.m., lasted throughout the day and was open to residents of the complex and their children, who also could all bring a friend.
“We just wanted to let the kids have a fun day before they go back to school,” said Kohler, who made contact with individuals and businesses throughout the community for their donations and financial support.
Giveaways and drawings included bags full of items children would need as they head back to school.
Since Valley View management must approve each idea before it is done, residents also expressed their appreciation to Jennifer Schleeter, property manager, for going out of her way to support them.
With a good turnout despite the threat of inclement weather, Young said it makes her feel good to be able to do something like this for the community, particularly the children, where they live.
“It’s taken a lot of hard work already, but we’re dedicated to it,” Young said.
Residents actively offering their support have been Monica Perez, Jessica Swink, Tiffin Picking, Karen Steele, Julie Sims and Yvonne Hines, who works on a monthly newsletter that goes out to residents not only about what’s going on at Valley View, but what’s going on in the larger community as well.
Businesses who made donations include, Max’s Dairy Bar, Wendy’s Old Fashioned Hamburgers, The Comfort Zone Diner, Burger King, Pizza Hut, Waffle House, Dairy Queen, Family Video, George Klima, LaGrande, East of Chicago Pizza, Padrone’s Pizza, Tailgaters Toot N Tell, and Taco Bell. Some of those businesses also offered their help for future events.
“It takes a lot to put yourself out there, but you do what you can to help each other,” Young said of the sense of community the residents of Valley View’s 44 units have developed.
“The residents help each other out,” Kohler said, commenting after Young talked to the Wapakoneta Daily News. “Looking around me today, I know if you put your heart and soul into something you will get the help you need.
“It makes me feel really good,” she said. “I hope the kids enjoy it.”