When a group of law enforcement and community leaders gathered some 3 years ago and formed a grassroots organization titled “WeCAN” to counteract the growing drugs and gang activities in the area, they immediately developed a three-step action plan:
1) Increase awareness;
2) Seek to prevent various situations from leading to drugs and gang violence; and
3) Intervene in situations where those problems already existed.
By participating in national, state or local programs, WeCAN focused initially on making citizens aware. What followed was a program to develop a “neighborhood watch,” mainly through our numerous churches. Along with participating in National Night Out, some inroads were made to connect neighbor to neighbor, but much more work is needed.
This spring, the focus was shifted to conduct an outreach to Coloma Homes in Rock Falls in order to support the theory that “it takes a village to raise a child.” Supporting families to raise their children in a healthy environment is the goal of WeCAN and many other agencies such as the YMCA and the YWCA.
At an initial meeting with a group of parents, some activities were planned. There was great interest in planting a community garden, providing portable basketball hoops, and planning a “mother's day out.” Later, a foster grandparents program became important, since not many of the families have extended family in the area.
However, quickly it was realized that it was too late for some of these programs, and we need volunteers. These service projects often do not demand a specific time commitment.
Our leadership believes that there is an enormous, untapped kindness available from well-meaning, would-be volunteers, who yearn for greater fulfillment through helping others.
Are you interested in gardening, or are you a “jock” interested in helping young people play basketball?
Do you want to help mothers feel special or become involved in a foster-grandparents program?
WeCAN can make it possible for busy people to volunteer and make a difference at anytime, from anywhere. Even if you have an unpredictable schedule, you can volunteer for a good cause like helping to raise a child.
Please call me at 815-622-8220. WeCAN stands for Whiteside County Community Action Network (CAN).
WeCAN's next event is participating in a national program called National Night Out. The date is Tuesday, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.
Activities to bring people together will be offered at Veterans Park in Rock Falls, and the following parks in Sterling: Douglas, Wallace, Kilgour, and Propheter. There will be hot dogs and bottled water for everyone, also games for children. Bring the whole family.
Note to readers: Al Campbell is the WeCAN president and pastor of the First Congregation Church in Rock Falls.