Cedar Rapids Church Holds Festival To Build A Stronger Community
By Addison Speck, Reporter
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - Floodwater washed away much of the southwest side of Cedar Rapids back in 2008. While more than four years have passed, some residents of the neighborhood say it isn't the same. That's why on Saturday a Cedar Rapids church provided a day of fun in hopes of rebuilding a stronger community.
Eden United Church of Christ organized a day of food, games, and crafts. They passed out more than 1,000 fliers and tickets for free to people who live in the neighborhood. They wanted to provide an opportunity for people to meet their neighbors, local authorities, and even members of the health department all while having fun. "We want to show the kids that the fire department and police department are their friends," said Dwight Mayberry, a Co-Organizer of the event.
Dozens of people turned out and spent Saturday fishing for toys, shooting hoops, and making jewelry. Families walked away with treats, prizes, and painted faces. "We went to Taylor Elementary School and the secretary said what they need is #2 pencils, pink erasers, and glue sticks. So we're giving a lot of those out plus other things," said Mayberry.
Mayberry and other members of the church hope families also took something else home. "The church is here for a reason, to reach out to the community and a lot of these people are really struggling here," said Mayberry, "we want them to know we are here to help them and this church is here for them."
As families played and talked in the Eden parking lot, Mayberry couldn't help but remember that for the last several years this wasn't possible. The church faced heavy water damage and the building couldn't be used for more than a year. Some people at the event told TV9 that the church may be back but the neighborhood still isn’t the same. "Our apartment we’re in now had some damage and were still going through that," said DeAnn Yirkobsky. "Very different, very sad, because I've lived in my house for 48 years and I lost some neighbors that moved away because of it," added Carol Olver.
But some said the event was the perfect reminder of why they chose to stay in that neighborhood. "This is a great neighborhood, it's got a lot of potential," said Mayberry. "It's just wonderful to see it all come back to life," added Yirkobsky, "I think the people are awesome."
The church received a lot of donations to make the event possible. The celebration ended with a concert inside the church. After seeing how much fun both children and the adults were having, organizers hope to make this an annual tradition.
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