Community Foundation of the Ozarks highlights key points in 2021 Community focus report

Published: Oct. 21, 2021 at 12:17 PM CDT|Updated: Oct. 21, 2021 at 4:38 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - Leaders in the Springfield community hope to regain the momentum it had before the pandemic.

The Community Foundation of the Ozarks released the entire Community Focus Report on Thursday at a virtual conference. It is the first report since 2019.

The report focused on improving diversity in the community. It also highlighted a need for better access to mental health care. Leaders also pointed to economic momentum lost with the pandemic.

Dr. Jonathan Groves, a facilitator for the Community Focus Report, said the community can make a comeback against the pandemic.

“The pandemic hit us pretty hard,” said Groves. “The good news is we’ve been bouncing back from it, but we still have a ways to go. There are some areas that we may have some long-term impacts that we aren’t seeing yet.”

Panelists spoke about a list of different issues. One panelist, Taj Suleyman, said one of the big talking points was diversity and inclusion in the community.

“You can see that we are expanding on the definition of our community,” said Suleyman. “What’s it like to be a Springfieldian? We’re seeing more growth in diversity, which is something that is an asset.”

Mental health was also talked about at length, as Dr. Groves said it is something we have to look out for and combat in the future because of the pandemic.

“Typically when we come out of the physical aspects of the pandemic, you may have 1-3 years of mental health impacts and try to cope with that,” said Groves.

Organizers and panelists also spoke on how the community can stop these issues from getting worse.

Suleyman said an answer is looking at the problem and who is involved so we can fix it together.

“How can we identify who are the partners, or who can take the ownership,” said Suleyman. “Being part of how to tell the story.”

Groves said he wants the community to look at this report to make their feelings into actions.

“Look at it and say, ‘What are my strengths as an individual? What can I do with that’’” said Groves. “Start thinking about what you bring to the community?. How might you focus on that to say, ‘I’m going to fix this,’”

For the full 2021 Community Focus Report for Springfield and Greene County, CLICK HERE.

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