Hamilton’s 17 Strong Recognizes Community Leaders, Honors Board Member at Annual Celebration Breakfast
By: Jeff Gambrell
HAMILTON – A cold, misty Saturday morning did not prevent over a hundred community leaders from coming out in support of one another at the 17 Strong Annual Celebration Breakfast hosted at Miami University Hamilton’s Wilks Conference Center. “We are all Hamilton whether you are urban, or suburban or traditional”, said Joan Stidham, Chair of 17 Strong. “You are Hamilton whether you are a friend, a newcomer, a life-long resident or somewhere in-between”.
During the celebration, community members took to the stage to explain their projects and give thanks for funding provided via the 17 Strong micro-grant program. Michelle Merrett, Board Member and volunteer with Hamilton Urban Gardens (HUGS), shared her appreciation for the support they received in replacing sixteen out of the fifty raised garden beds they tend to in their community garden with more permanent cement blocks. “We always look to engage the community to come and grow with us,” said Merrett. “It’s a great experience to be out in nature and learn about gardening, growing your own food, and it’s exciting for the kids”. Merrett’s project was one of eighteen recognized at the January 25th event.
Brandon Saurber, Director of the newly-founded Department of Neighborhoods, concluded the morning’s festivities by providing updates on what to expect in 2020 including the brand new 17 Strong website. The new site allows residents to find what neighborhood they live in, who their neighborhood champion is to get in contact with for more information on their neighborhood, and provides access to the 17 Strong micro-grant. Saurber followed his talk with a short video explaining more of what 17 Strong means for the community with a big surprise at the end. He unveiled the newly established Kathleen Klink Award for Neighborhood Leadership named in honor of former City Council Member and current 17 Strong Board Member, Kathy Klink. The award will be presented each year to one of the grant recipient’s during the annual celebration breakfast.