Laramie is a small town with Heart and Soul, so it’s fitting it was the recipient of the award that bears the same name. Community Heart & Soul is a national organization with an initiative to build stronger communities through residents.

Credit: United Way Albany County Facebook
Credit: United Way Albany County Facebook
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The big question for the award is: What does Laramie need?

(Here’s a link to the survey if you’d like to participate)

There are services for childcare, transportation, and food; with several nonprofits serving Laramie, the goal of the award and initiative is to be specific about needs. Tim Etzkorn, Director of the Community Impact Cooperative working with United Way, says they’re establishing a community health resource inventory to see what else is needed. The grass-roots approach starts by listening to stories, collecting narratives and data, and other information our community considers necessary. 

“Finding those other needs for our underserved community is a primary goal. We need to hear their stories. We need to survey our other nonprofits to see what specific needs are already being targeted. The end goal is an action plan based on the stories, surveys, and other assessments,” Etzkorn said. 

The survey above is available, and the Community Impact Cooperative will be at the Farmers’ Market on July 14. 

Etzkorn wants to “build trust with the hidden and missing voices in the community. We want to find ways to go to people, not make them come to us.”

It’s a community listening project. Etzkorn doesn’t want to replicate services offered in Laramie; he wants to hear what else is needed. After stories and narratives are collected, the data from them and the 15 other nonprofits surveyed and working with Etzkorn will be used to make a targeted action plan to determine what services Laramie needs most. 

The Community Impact Cooperative hopes to have 1 to 3 focused goals to present to City Council and County Commissioners by July 2024, using money from the Heart & Soul award to gather and process the data. 

Community Heart & Soul is a national organization for community development. Its focus is small-town economic development and citizen participation, especially in rural areas. They want residents to decide their needs and drive the change. 

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