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Neighbor to Neighbor

Summary 
  • Need: To reduce social isolation and its negative effects on health for women in rural Kansas.
  • Intervention: Neighbor to Neighbor is a day center where women can socialize, eat free meals, and take care of basic needs such as laundry and showers.
  • Results: An average of 24 women and children visit the center every day. Positive comments from visitors suggest that the day center helps reduce their social isolation.

Description

Three Catholic nuns in Kansas are working to reduce the harmful effects of social isolation in their community.

Neighbor to Neighbor Logo

Neighbor to Neighbor is a day center in rural Concordia that offers classes, services, and a place for women in the community. The Sisters of St. Joseph started the center in 2010 so that women in this town of 5,000 could find support and resources. The center provides a place for women to interact with one another, learn skills such as chair yoga or pain management, and meet basic needs such as laundry.

The day center's funding comes from the Sisters of St. Joseph and donations from community members. The "Reading with Friends" program for children is funded in part by a Dane G. Hansen Fund grant through the Community Foundation for Cloud County, a gift from the Cloud County Attorney's Diversion Fund, in-kind gifts, and varied other grants.

Services offered

The center teaches skills to women and provides enrichment activities for children. Visitors of all ages and incomes are welcome. Neighbor to Neighbor is open Monday through Friday and offers classes such as:

  • Baking and general cooking skills
  • Chair Yoga
  • Crafts, such as knitting, jewelry-making, or card-making
  • Children's Play Groups
Neighbor to Neighbor sewing class
A volunteer helps a Neighbor to Neighbor visitor during a sewing class.

The center strives to meet the basic needs of women in the community by providing a free lunch as well as shower and laundry facilities. Every day that the center is open, a free meal is offered to any of the women and children visiting. The laundry facilities are free for participants, but participants must make a reservation so that everyone has an opportunity to use the washers and dryers. The shower facilities are available any time that Neighbor to Neighbor is open.

Neighbor to Neighbor offers KOHP (Kansas Optimizing Health Program). This is a seven-week program for people with chronic diseases and illnesses to assist them with self-management of pain.

The center also offers women the opportunity to participate in outreach programs. Current programs at Neighbor to Neighbor include making quilts for veterans and sensory development toys for babies born prematurely.

For children aged 3 to 5 and their caregivers, the day center offers the "Reading with Friends" story time series. Children who attend a monthly session receive a snack and a free copy of the book that was read. For children aged infant to 3 years, an eight-week music enrichment program is offered twice a year.

Neighbor to Neighbor storytime
A volunteer reads a book during "Reading with Friends."

Neighbor to Neighbor does not duplicate services provided by other local agencies, but it does make and receive referrals to these organizations. All Neighbor to Neighbor services are free to women and children attending the day center.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Neighbor to Neighbor has not been able to offer classes or playtime for children. Other services are still available.

Results

An average of 24 women and children visit the center each day. The center has received positive feedback from its visitors, such as:

  • "This has made such a difference in my life."
  • "This is the best thing that has happened to Concordia in a long time."

Visitors comment that the center provides them with a place to go and things to do so they aren't just home alone. People concerned with depression have found that aspect of the center particularly helpful, and younger mothers have especially appreciated the opportunities to learn new parenting skills and talk with other adults.

Neighbor to Neighbor playroom
Sisters of St. Joseph volunteers get toys set up for Play Group.

Challenges

Starting the day center required a great deal of groundwork to determine the community's needs, secure a location, and equip the space to meet the anticipated needs of visitors. However, thanks to the support of the Sisters of St. Joseph Leadership Council, many common obstacles such as funding and finding a location were avoided.

With the assistance of the Sisters of St. Joseph, the group had the financial backing to purchase a building for use. Maintenance employees for the Sisters of St. Joseph also provided much needed restoration to the building.

Replication

Neighbor to Neighbor relies on volunteers to teach classes and help run events like "Reading with Friends." Program coordinators recommend that communities looking to implement a similar program should reach out to churches and social service agencies in the area in order to assess community needs and to avoid duplicating services.

Contact Information

Catherine Doud, Director of Communications
Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia, Kan.
Neighbor to Neighbor
785.262.4215
cdoud@csjkansas.org

Topics
Children and youth
Community and faith-based initiatives
Wellness, health promotion, and disease prevention
Women

States served
Kansas

Date added
May 19, 2017

Date updated or reviewed
June 29, 2020

Suggested citation: Rural Health Information Hub, 2020. Neighbor to Neighbor [online]. Rural Health Information Hub. Available at: https://www.ruralhealthinfo.org/project-examples/955 [Accessed 27 October 2020]


Please contact the models and innovations contact directly for the most complete and current information about this program. Summaries of models and innovations are provided by RHIhub for your convenience. The programs described are not endorsed by RHIhub or by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy. Each rural community should consider whether a particular project or approach is a good match for their community’s needs and capacity. While it is sometimes possible to adapt program components to match your resources, keep in mind that changes to the program design may impact results.