Graceland School had been closed for seven years prior to its purchase. (Also in this issue, Town Fork Creek Neighborhood Association President Becky Forrest discusses the significance of the school's reuse to the community.)
That makes Becky Forrest
doubly proud these days to be able to report Town Fork Creek is on the upswing.
The neighborhood, bounded by 47th and 63rd Streets, Prospect Avenue and Swope Parkway, faces many of the same challenges of other neighborhoods.
According to the long-time president, "blight, low-income, a feeling of helplessness" are all problems.
In addition, she
says many of the neighborhood's residents are elderly.
That means they don't have email and aren't able to go outside the neighborhood to places where services are provided.
"A lot of them don't have transportation, so we need to bring services to them" Forrest
The neighborhood recently got a huge boost, however.
"Finally, after all these years," Forrest
Last fall, the nonprofit Swope Corridor
Renaissance/The Upper Room, Inc.
acquired the Graceland School
, 2803 East 51st Street, one of 30 schools closed and put for sale by the Kansas City, Missouri School District
"It gives me a push to do better.
I see what can happen and it's all worth it," she
The Upper Room
has partnered with Town Fork Creek and the Blue Hills neighborhood to create a community center in Graceland
where the Upper Room
can provide its programs and the neighborhoods can bring together residents to work on various projects.
Even before moving into the community center, Forrest
says the partnership is paying off.
Last fall, the partners held a health fair and people in Town Fort Creek were able to get blood pressure screenings, access to student nurses and dentists, and vital health information.
can only imagine how the neighborhood can improve as this continues.
One thing she
hopes is that the opening of the community center in Graceland School
will lead many of the younger people in the
neighborhood to get involved.
sees them coming into the center for activities, classes and meals.
Forrest has been a member of Brush Creek Community Partners' Board of Directors since November 2010.
looks forward to having people come into her
neighborhood and see all the positive elements.
Instead of hearing crime reports on the news, she
hopes others will be able to see what she
sees, an area where people know their neighbors and feel like a community.
especially looks forward to being able to host a Brush Creek Community Partners board meeting in the center so that more people in her
neighborhood can hear about BCCP's work.