- by Andy Rausch and Joe Reinecker
This year, like always, Southeast Kansas Independent Living will be having an annual meeting and Christmas dinner. This year the event will be held on Friday, December 6th at the Parsons VFW 704 (105 Main St.). It will begin at 5:30 pm and last until 11:00 pm. According to SKIL CEO/President Shari Coatney, this year's keynote speaker will be a representative from the Disability Rights Center who will be discussing the importance of disability voting in the 2020 election.
“Next year's election is an important one, so we're going to end this year getting revved up for that,” explained Coatney.
There will also be a 50/50 drawing. “That's fun and exciting, and it's also a way for us to help pay for the dinner. And somebody will get to go home with some extra cash in their pocket.” There will also be door prizes awarded. Also, SKIL will be doing a food drive and attendees are encouraged to bring canned foods.
As usual, there will also be an awards ceremony for deserving individuals. “We have a wonderful group of people accepting awards this year, and that's exciting,” said Coatney. “The board members had so many worthy nominations for people to be recognized this year, and that's a really cool thing.”
Coatney says the primary goal for the dinner is to provide people who don't get out of their homes very often to have a place to go and have fun during the holidays. “It offers the opportunity for socialization to people who don't normally get that,” said Coatney. “A lot of people with disabilities don't have many opportunities to let their hair down and have fun and be accepted for who they are and whatever their abilities and limitations are. They can dance and not feel uncomfortable dancing in a wheelchair.”
This year's caterer will again be Mom's Best, but the selection will be different. In the past few years, they have served roast beef. This year, however, there will be chicken and noodles. “We've had them cater the past few years and it always works out smoothly,” said Coatney. “The food is good and they take care of everything, such as serving food and cleaning up afterward.”
The event is open to SKIL customers, employees, and the general public. Come out and join us!
-by Amy Reynolds
On October 24, 2019 Dinner on 17th Street directors, Tim & Amy Reynolds, along with PFC senior Pastor Steve Schulze, met with cook & serve team leaders to announce the future of the Dinner on 17th Street program. Dinner on 17th Street is a free weekly meal, served to the community each Thursday at the First Baptist Church in Parsons, which has been active for over 10 years.
The Reynolds’ stepped into the leadership role in the fall of 2016, when Barry Johnson, associate pastor at Parsons Foursquare Church, became ill and couldn’t continue his leadership with Dinner on 17th Street. Reynolds had worked with Johnson for many years, both as part of the development and the serving at Dinner on 17th Street.
Reynolds shared that two of the biggest struggles for the Dinner on 17 are finding enough volunteer groups to commit to cooking and serving through the year, and financially funding the cost of providing a free weekly community meal. While they have received a PACF grant for the past two years for the paper goods used each week at the meal, there are many other costs associated with the service.
Reynolds announcement stated that these two issues were factors in their decision to step down and close Dinner on 17th Street at the end of 2019. The free community meal will be served through the month of November (with the exception of November 7 & 28) and December, with the last meal being served on December 19, 2019.
Dinner on 17th Street patrons were informed of such changes at the meal served on October 31 and they posted a closure message on their Facebook page for those who were not in attendance.