By Sydney Waters
Being an events coordinator for Old Town Cape is rewarding in so many ways. It truly is a career that combines structure and creativity in the most intricate web, and I feel very honored to have found and fit this position. We have established that sustainability of downtown Cape Girardeau is directly related to the percentage of young people who choose to stay and build their lives in the area. Our role at Old Town Cape is to serve as the connector for these young people and give them access to the resources and connections we have available downtown. One of our projects — Youth Entrepreneurship Day at the Riverfront Market — started with a brainstorming session about how to get young people more involved with our farmer’s market and community.
After discussing our goal, the Old Town Cape team decided there is no better way to involve our youth than to give them the tools and platform to be involved at the market hands-on as vendors. We decided to reach out to SendAFriend, a local care package delivery company who is big on philanthropy and youth entrepreneurship. SendAFriend jumped on board with the Youth Entrepreneurship Day idea and provided us with three $250 grants to award to young entrepreneurs of our choice. These funds could be used for supplies and/or marketing materials to enhance or create a small business venture.
The team then put together a grant application for the funds and chose three wonderful young people ages 14 through 18 who live in Missouri or Illinois to receive the grant money. The winners this year — Scented Soylutions, Tofu Da Customizer and Goodies by Galati — were then provided the $250 grants, a Cape Riverfront Market booth on Sept. 10, news interviews and social media coverage. This was one of the most successful days to date at the Cape Riverfront Market, and our youth grant winners have continued growing their small business ventures and making connections with the downtown community.
Passion is the key driving factor behind change, and it is contagious! No matter if your idea is big or small, if you see a gap that needs to be bridged in your community and have an idea, I encourage you to bring it to the table and ask for help. It is very likely there are others who see the need, too, but don’t know where to start. A strong volunteer base will get you to your goals and help create positive change in your community.
Use these questions to do some dreaming about a project you could create in and for a community you are a part of:
What are some issues, hobbies, groups of people, etc., you’re interested in?
What are needs you see in a community you are a part of?
What are some fun ways you could use the resources and passions you have to help others?
What other resources and materials would you need to carry out one of these projects?
Who else could get involved with this project to help it be impactful?
What are your hopes for the impact this project would have on the people involved and the larger community?
What is a concrete step you could take today to start putting this idea into action?