The second-annual Independence Social Services Summit certainly exceeded the first, organizers say, enough so that a bigger venue might be required next year.
More important was the information shared during Tuesday afternoon's summit at Midwest Public Risk. Sarah Schofield Wimberley, pastor at the Northern Boulevard United Methodist Church and president of the Ministerial Alliance, said about 125 people registered for the event, up by nearly 20 from last year and enough to fill the building's conference room.
The Ministerial Alliance co-hosted the event with Community Services League.
“It was more diverse,” Wimberley said of the representation. “We had 23 vendor tables, and a lot of agencies didn't have a table.”
Organizations ranged from churches to health care providers, housing organizations, and food providers, Independence and Fort Osage schools and even Trails West Library. With so many agencies and organizations represented, people were bound to find some coverage overlaps in the community, Wimberley said, which is not a bad thing.
Tuesday was not about hashing out turf issues.
“The focus is on getting to know who all is out there, who you might be able to collaborate with,” she said.
Such collaboration can be especially helpful when trying to secure funds, as grants and donations many times go to bigger organizations over smaller ones serving a similar purpose.
“(It's about) how we can work together to meet the needs of the community and maximize the dollars available,” Wimberley said.
Doug Cowan, president and CEO of Community Services League, said while the organizations are based in Independence, most have operations that extend around Eastern Jackson County and beyond. The impressive turnout showed strong commitment, he said.
“Independence should be proud to know that 125 people took time to figure out, 'How can we work together?'” he said. “Everybody has an interest in making Independence better.”