CHAMPAIGN — Word needs to get out about the Champaign County Community Coalition’s many accomplishments, Champaign City Council member Angie Brix said Tuesday after the group delivered its annual update to the council.
Brix’s comments followed a presentation by coalition facilitator Tracy Parsons, during which he outlined the group’s various initiatives focused around curbing gun violence, youth development and community engagement.
But Brix said the group has to be better about getting people involved outside of meetings and forums, and get them working on the ground to find solutions for the city’s various problems. A quick and direct way to get people involved, she suggested, is a revamp of the coalition’s aging website, which — according to Parson’s recollection — was set up by a volunteer years ago.
“In terms of using the website a bit better, we need more information outside of who we are and here’s when the meeting is,” Brix said. “There wasn’t anywhere that said, ‘Here’s how you can get involved.’”
With so many programs, committees and organizations looking for help, she said, the coalition has to find a way of highlighting opportunities.
Parsons said getting the word out has been “something we wrestle with and talk about all the time,” adding that within the next few months, residents of Champaign can expect a revamped website and more information on how to educate themselves about the coalition’s programs.
Council member Will Kyles said he remembers a decade ago when the coalition was just a few tables inside the Douglass branch of the Champaign Public Library and was amazed at just how much it has grown. He warned against the coalition’s programs becoming “stagnant and stale,” calling for the group to “dig down deep at the core issues.”
“Sometimes when you dig deep, you open up issues that are necessary and important to deal with as we evolve as a community,” Kyles said, adding that the council’s aim to support re-entry programs specifically should go past being a goal.
Praising the coalition’s work on youth development, council member Matthew Gladney said he’s happy to see young people in groups like Girls, Self Made Kingz and Goal Getters “getting outside their immediate environment.”
Implementing those programs, Gladney said, will “severely decrease the need for reactive solutions” for the city in the future.
Mayor Deb Feinen said the work of the coalition has pushed her personally and the rest of the city to “make this place a better place and a trend setter to making a difference in our community.”
“Whenever I see Tracy, boy, am I glad we didn’t give (the coalition) away and that it is housed here at the city,” Feinen said.