About 250 people turned out Saturday for a movie night and kids’ fun event for the Highland Park neighborhood in Hamilton, which used a micro-grant from the city’s 17Strong program to finance it.
Kieh Kirby, 23, is an event planner who has lived in the neighborhood since April of 2016, and did most of the organizing for the evening, which happened in the grassy Virginia Avenue Park, in the heart of the neighborhood.
“I thought, ‘How can I serve my community in this way that I’m gifted in?’ and I figured there are so many kids in this neighborhood, so why not have something for them?” she said. “I thought a movie night would be great.”
MORE HAMILTON NEWS: Ol' Lefthander would have loved new mural, family says
Highlighting the event was the hit 2016 film, “Moana.”
“I actually created a little questionnaire and I sent it out to everyone in the neighborhood, and I gave them five different options for movies, and ‘Moana’ won in a landslide,” Kirby said.
The 17Strong $1,300 micro-grant paid for movie licensing fees, marketing supplies, signs and fliers, food and screen rental.
RELATED: Foundation’s Youth Philanthropy Committee awards over $45K in grants
“My husband (Eric) and I got married in 2015, and wanted to live in this neighborhood for as long as we can remember, and finally the right house popped up, and we got it,” Kirby said.
One thing she likes best about Highland Park is its sidewalks. That’s because she grew up on a 20-acre farm in the Oxford area and, “never got to walk on sidewalks, ever,” she said.
“The trees here are beautiful. I haven’t seen a neighborhood in Hamilton that has this many big trees. The people that I’ve met in this neighborhood are very friendly, and kind,” she said. “I love that it’s a historic neighborhood, too.”
“We actually had some people who didn’t live in our neighborhood, which I was glad that they were able to come,” Kirby said.
City Council Member Kathleen Klink, a leading proponent of the 17Strong effort, has said the micro-grants are a key in the city’s efforts to activate grass-roots leadership in each of the city’s 17 neighborhoods. The grants have been used for a variety of purposes, including installing entry signs for neighborhoods, hosting community events and other uses.
In preparation for a post-event performance report that’s required by 17Strong, organizers counted three different times, and, “overall, there were about 250 people who came. And about 140 stayed to watch the movie, because it was a little later, so some kids had to go to bed, but a lot stayed, and were singing along with the movie.”
For other neighborhoods who have not taken advantage of the 17Strong grants, Kirby suggests applying for them early next year.
Her advice: “If you have enough people in your neighborhood who care, who want to serve in this way, I feel like anyone can accomplish an event like this.”
“I think it’s just important to get your community together, whatever way that works,” she said. “Each community is different. Ours has a lot of kids. Other neighborhoods don’t.”