Town meetings to unite community

Published 4:47 pm Friday, January 22, 2016

AURORA — The Aurora community is banding together to find unity in the face of hard times.

A meeting held Tuesday was the first community-organized gathering of its kind in at least three years.

The Friends of Hazel W. Guilford Memorial Library and library staff held a community meeting for civic organizations in Aurora and the Richland Township to get the community on the same page in terms of supporting each other’s events and initiatives, said Eve Hemby, a community organizer and resident in Aurora.

Around 20 different organizations were represented, including the Aurora Seniors’ Club, Aurora Community Watch, S.W. Snowden Elementary School, Aurora Women’s Club and several churches, as well as the Aurora Police Department.

The meeting included a rundown of steps the community could take to better communicate when each organization had events planned, alleviating the chance that events by different organizations get scheduled for the same time.

“Lack of communication (in Aurora) is a big issue,” said Vickie Jones, chairperson of the Friends group. “We hope to get some stronger alliances from the meeting. I think it’s a major first step. It’s something we’ve needed for a while. We were just thinking if we all meshed together, fundraisers and other events would be better and we could make those events bigger because we wouldn’t all be competing against each other. The only way you’re going to build a stronger community is by coming together.”

The meeting gave representatives the opportunity to introduce themselves and share their organization’s plans in the near future, Hemby said. The idea of community bulletin boards was revisited, something the town lost when its only grocery store, Piggly Wiggly, closed in April 2015.

“(The meeting) was really helpful in educating the community about what everyone was doing and gathering together to get community bulletin boards in town,” Hemby said.

The civic organizations plan to continue hosting meetings one Tuesday of each month to ensure communication between the organizations, according to Hemby.

“I was very pleased with the turnout,” said Robina Norman, branch manager at the library. “I’m excited about the organizations coming together and working together to help build a better community. I feel like we’re turning around and finding some hope.”