Thursday night, the Legacy Foundation hosted the 4th annual Civic Innovators Convening event at the Art House in Gary, which gave the residents of Gary a chance to present the changes that they would like to see for their community and vote for their favorite plan to be funded to better the City of Gary.
Carolyn Saxton, President of the Legacy Foundation, hopes to improve every city in the Lake Country area to be the best that it can be.
"I hope to give the residents of Gary the opportunity to have a say in some of the projects that are happening,” Saxton said. “It's a way to engage the residence of Gary with some of the decisions."
The Legacy Foundation, which celebrated their anniversary this past year, supports the community by offering scholarships and grants to help benefit the city and the residents.
With the support of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the event went off without a hitch. Lilly Weinberg, Program Director for Community Foundations of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, has worked to create successful cities that thrive and was excited to bring that same sentiment to the Civic Innovators Convening.
"The Knight Foundation is really looking to build success. We're looking for talent retention and this event is for the best and brightest talent," said Weinberg. "At the root of it, this is about civic engagement. This is about getting community members together to vote on their favorite ideas and rewarding those ideas a grant.”
The event welcomed community members to present their innovative ideas to advance their hometown. These ideas ranged from giving the residents a hands-on course to enhance their understanding of technology and proper job etiquette to giving people an environmentally friendly small residency space to call their own. But while many guests came to have a say in their community, others came to support the presenters. Business owner DeLoh Anderson came to support her brother, Tyrell, who presented Thursday night.
”He is going to come out on top tonight,” Anderson said. “I’m his number one supporter."
The residents of Gary were in for a real treat when Mayor Karen Freeman Wilson of Gary came to fill in for another presenter that couldn't make it. She shared her fond thoughts on the project.
"I think the civic innovation project is a great way to contribute to the improvement of our community," Freeman said. "I find that when they are allowed and able to put their ideas in action, they'll come up with a way to add the quality of life to the residents of this community. I am excited about the projects and to see them come to fruition."
After the guests voted on which project presented a plan for innovation for the whole community, the whole room was filled with anticipation to see which idea would be funded. Rodina Lacovacci and the team of Andrea Ledbetter and Tyrell Anderson won by a landslide. Lacovacci was inspired to put her technology skill enhancement in action, and overjoyed when she won.
"I saw that there was a void in the community and there needed to be this type of program to service the residents of Gary,” Lacovacci said. “This way, they have the skills that they need to get meaningful employment and to develop a career."
The presenting team Andrea Ledbetter and Tyrell Anderson were excited and grateful for their popularity to use their residency project.
"We're looking forward to bringing something new to the city. We're going to use this as a tool to spread it around our community, and doing something different." Anderson said.
Ledbetter excited talked about the idea behind their project.
"I'm into holistic living, so to have something that you can introduce into our community where you can be ecologically responsible, capitalize on our beautiful nature, and get people interested into alternative adaptive uses to live is a dream come true,” said Ledbetter. "Someone told me that this idea would never work in a minority community. But I believe that now people are really open to the idea."
The event gives new hope to the residents of Gary, and now, the future of the city looks brighter than ever before.
To learn more about the Legacy Foundation and their programs and events, visit their website.