When we first started started writing Wallyhood, one of the great puzzles was how the different civic organizations fit together: the Wallingford Chamber of Commerce, the Wallingford Community Council and the Wallingford Neighborhood Association (operating the Wallingford Neighborhood Office) each had slightly different, but slightly overlapping missions and goals. We sat on a stool at Mosaic and got a tutorial on it from Mary Heim, but still felt a little blurry on why a little community needed all three.
Well, things are getting streamlined. Joe Hurley, the WNA Board President, and Kathleen Cromp, Executive Director of the Wallingford Community Senior Center, sent over this release:
Wallingford Neighborhood Association (WNA) Closure
Opens Door for New Connections among Other Wallingford Neighborhood Organizations
Background: The Wallingford Neighborhood Association, operator of the neighborhood office, was established in the mid-1990’s as Weaving Wallingford to bring community organizations together as part of the Wallingford Neighborhood Plan. The organization’s name evolved over the years, yet it continuously strived to serve as the central information hub for Wallingford community activities. Annual special events such as the Sea Fair Kiddies Parade & Summer Festival, the Garden Tour, and the Home Tour, provided necessary funding to continue such community-building activities. These events were made possible through the generous efforts of volunteers, led by Janet Stillman (Strong) as the ever-present, caring staff person who was the go-to resource in Wallingford for many years. Janet retired in July 2012. Recent years have seen a significant drop-off in participation, as well as revenue generated from the three signature events. It has also been increasingly difficult to mobilize adequate volunteer energy to ensure the success of these events.
Neighborhood Office to Close: The financial realities became starkly apparent early in 2012; with the WNA Board concluding that it is not feasible to continue operations. The decision to close the neighborhood office came after close consultation with other community groups, including Chamber of Commerce, Wallingford Community Senior Center, the Community Council and Family Works. The neighborhood office will be closed at the end of October 2012.
Opportunity to ‘Weave Wallingford’: This decision has been made in the context of a year-long series of conversations with the above-named groups and other community activists. The topic of discussion has been a need to more effectively unite the many efforts, activities, and organizations of Wallingford to strengthen community, more fully mobilize willing volunteers, and provide easier navigation of the neighborhood’s opportunities for participation and volunteerism. In these conversations, there has been agreement that some organizational coordination or consolidation would help this cause, with early thinking about possible ways to organize most effectively to meet community needs.
What Next? In the immediate near-term, attention will be on practical matters of saving and storing key records, change of address, and other logistics. The Chamber of Commerce will relocate their staff to the Wallingford Community Senior Center which is located in the Good Shepherd Center.
After the office closure, there will be a community process to explore a vision for uniting the community and defining an organizational model that will best ‘weave Wallingford’. This will also include planning about how and where the former WNA activities will land. We welcome Wallingford residents and businesses to be actively involved in this process.
It’s a sad moment to see an organization that has done so much for Wallingford close its doors, but at the same time, there are many other good and strong organizations still in operation that can take on the various pieces of the charter. Here’s looking forward to see them develop.