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LEAD Derby and the Derby Chamber of Commerce teamed with the Kansas Leadership Center through December as part of the “Kansas Beats the Virus” statewide initiative to combat the spread of COVID-19 at a local level.

KLC’s efforts were spurred out of a partnership with the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, as the “Beat the Virus” campaign aimed to keep Kansans healthy, schools and businesses open and protect the state’s economy.

In line with KLC’s goal of hosting 1,000 virtual meetings before the end of December, LEAD Derby and the Chamber of Commerce looked to facilitate 20 such sessions by Dec. 31. The meetings were intended to generate local support and stimulate concrete action to slow the spread of the virus, according to a release from the KLC.

“For every organization, that’s going to look different. Part of the hope is that these actionable items A) help stop COVID and B) maybe give somebody else some ideas throughout the state of, ‘hey, that’s a good idea,’” said Chamber President and CEO Mark Staats.

While looking to tap into both KLC and LEAD Derby alumni base, it was noted that both organizers and participants could come from anywhere in the community.

Hosts had a simple role, too, as KLC – created specifically to address civic leadership challenges, such as a pandemic – provided personnel to help guide the discussion in the virtual sessions. Facilitators helped participants diagnose the situation, brainstorm possible action projects and commit to action.

“All the host or convener had to do is find eight to 15 people to do a one-hour Zoom meeting,” Staats said.

Once scheduled, participants were able to work together in meetings to develop an actionable item to help address slowing the spread of COVID-19. Examples could include signage in stores to keep people moving in a certain direction, local PTOs committing to virtual meetings, etc.

Grants up to $3,000 were available for projects that may need funding to enact their solution in the community.

Ideas generated in the sessions were intended to be shared with local and state officials.

Different perspectives meant numerous potential solutions, with LEAD Derby and the Chamber being a stepping stone to that, not just in Derby. Staats noted partners from Haysville, Mulvane and other communities were welcome to participate as well.

“I think that those conversations are the important part of it – hearing from different people, their thoughts and these people developing an actionable plan to help stop the spread of COVID,” Staats said.

“As we worked on this campaign, our hope is to not only energize and support the KLC network who are committed to our purpose, but to inspire all Kansans to come up with their own version of what they could do to be architects for the common good,” said KLC President and CEO Ed O’Malley.

Derby groups participated in 21 meetings total facilitated either by LEAD Derby or KLC, part of the 851 meetings completed around the state by the end of the 2020. Through those 851 meetings, 823 action plans were launched – including 12 from organizations confirmed to have received grants in the Derby community.

For Circles of Derby, the action plan was a way to support a community within a community. Executive Director Mandy Rohr noted COVID-19 stopped the meetings crucial to the organization’s mission – something the grant helped reintroduce with the purchase of Chromebooks.

“Once our participants were able to meet virtually, that has helped to renew that sense of community support. A participant who had stopped attending has rejoined the group. The ability to stay safe yet hold meetings has helped to bring back a sense of community and has helped the participants feel connected,” Rohr said. “It was important to find a way for us to continue to build community but not jeopardize people’s health and well being.”

The American Legion family is community-oriented as well. Public Relations Officer Michael Saindon noted Post 408 (Derby-Haysville) was ready to do its part to beat the virus – adapting several of its traditional events to continue supporting the community.

“As a result, what we have done is we have changed from dining inside to drive-through burger burns,” Saindon said. “We are also planning a drive-through pancake feed that will support the Derby food bank. It is imperative that we continue to support each other in all facets throughout the community.”

Marrying school pride with pandemic safety, the Derby Education Foundation will be providing branded masks to USD 260 with its grant – something board member Andy McFayden projects will be a boon to the entirety of the school district.

“There is much uncertainty as the community takes steps to ensure the continued safety of all citizens during the pandemic,” McFayden said. “These gifts that have been provided by multiple grants in the city, both individually and cumulatively, will no doubt help us maintain a safe environment for the students, faculty and staff to move successfully forward.”

KANSAS BEATS THE VIRUS ACTION PLANS IN DERBY THAT RECEIVED GRANT FUNDING:

• Derby Public Schools ($3,000): Creating Family Care Kits and Individual Student Personal Hygiene Kits for families in need to ensure access to hygiene and sanitization materials. Family kits include: laundry soap, liquid hand soap, disinfectant/wipes, hand sanitizer and a box of tissues. Student kits include: shampoo, deodorant, toothbrush, toothpaste, dental floss, small hand sanitizer, and cloth masks (reusable, pediatric sizes).

• Cooper Elementary ($3,000): Creating a safe and clean learning environment for students and teachers by purchasing cleaning supplies for families and air purifiers for classrooms.

• Derby Chamber of Commerce ($3,000): Purchasing 300 $10 gift cards from locally-owned restaurants to randomly reward people wearing masks in public places. The DRC will be given some gift cards to pass out to patrons who are wearing masks.

• Derby Recreation Commission ($3,000): Purchasing software that integrates with the public address system reminding people to wear masks and stay socially distanced, as well as equipment to do virtual classes.

• Sons of the American Legion ($3,000): Purchasing “to go” items so Burger Burns can be done remotely with people picking up burgers and taking them home.

• Derby Fire and Rescue ($3,000): Purchasing cardio fitness equipment for Fire & Rescue so they can stay healthy in a safe, non-public workout environment.

• Oaklawn Elementary ($3,000): Putting three air purifiers in rooms that have very little ventilation, putting signs in their students’ yards as reminders to “Be Safe...wear a mask, wash your hands, maintain social distancing,” and placing yard signs in every staff member’s yard.

• Derby Education Foundation ($3,000): Coordinating a project of mask awareness by utilizing available funds to purchase customized face masks for Derby Public Schools that are branded – using school spirit to encourage safe practices/flattening the curve.

• Rotary Club of Derby ($3,000): Partnering with Derby Education Foundation to purchase masks for all USD 260 students.

• Circles Derby ($3,000): Purchasing Chromebooks and hotspots so Circle Leaders can meet regularly online online. Creating “Covid Buddies” so Circle Leaders can continue moving toward financial stability with structured curriculum and support while isolating at home.

• Group of women from Woodlawn United Methodist Church ($3,000): Placing yard signs with catchy phrases along heavily traveled rroadways. Purchasing billboard advertising at K-15/47th and on I-35, with one of the messages shown at the top of this page.

• DHS Journalism ($3,000): Buying masks to help raise awareness on safety during the pandemic.

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