A year ago Casey Ballard, executive director of the United Way, and Andy Lehmann, a local pastor and United Way board member, visited the Rotary Club to explain an exciting new program that they and others were initiating. The purpose of the program was to help people and organizations involved in all areas of service work together effectively. The name of this program is The Waxahachie Project.

The Waxahachie Project was intended to assess what the needs of the county are. In their words they, "intended to unite community leaders, business leaders, non-profits, churches, and educational institutions to work for the good of our city. We do that by embracing a shared understanding of Waxahachie’s greatest needs and strengths and measures for continual health and growth."

This means they took a new approach to service instead of asking, "What do you do and how can we help?" they asked, "What are the greatest needs of Ellis County that we can address together?" Also, "What are the greatest strengths of Ellis County that we can support together?" They used conversation, research, focus groups, developed a report and recommendation and launched the task forces.

Mrs. Ballard and Mr. Lehmann returned to the Rotary Club this week to present some of their results. They had organized a group that included homes, non-profits, churches, service organizations, businesses and education institutions to do a survey to assess needs so strategies could be set. A group of over 300 SAGU students surveyed 510 families covering all ages, income levels and ethniticies in Waxahachie. Each group was represented as closely as possible by its occurance in our city. So if a group represented 15 percent of the people in the city they insured that they represented about the same percent of the 510 families. That way the results are representative.

The largest need in the city was the financial need. The surprise was that everyone of every age and income level has the same problem. A little probing found that much of this was caused by poor financial management, something everyone can understand. Of course shortage of funds is a real problem too. In surveying the non-profit, church and service groups it was found the biggest focus of those groups is children’s and youth’s services.

The Rotary Club donated $2,000 to help the Project continue with its work. The next step is to set up two task groups. The first will increase community awareness and engagement. The second will address the financial needs problems.

A very effective web page explains the Project in much more detail. Check it out at www.thewaxahachieproject.org . For more information about the projects contact Andy Lehmann at 412-638-4934 or alehmann@theoaksonline.org .

For more information about the Rotary Club of Waxahachie where we believe in Service Above Self and doing things as a club we cannot do alone, visit the club web site at www.waxahachierotary.org . You can find American flag subscription forms there.