A decade ago wasn’t an easy time for most of America, still reeling from the Great Recession of 2008. 

Those times were especially difficult for us in Johnstown. 

We were nearing the end of another era: booming defense industry jobs. In 2010, we lost our champion, U.S. Rep. John Murtha. Our area, long and most often dependent on a single backbone of industry, would have to reinvent itself again.

How would we make a new future?

We had to do something different this time, and we believe it’s working. The pieces are coming together in ways they haven’t before, and the most important pieces are you. You are bringing diverse ideas, commitment and resilience.

This time, the answer isn’t one big solution but many small, valuable sparks. Sparks that could have fizzled if there were not an engine to put them to use.

While we recognize our region has plenty of challenges – lagging economic recovery and workforce issues, equity concerns, drug use, municipal stress – we hope these sparks of success continue to catch on and spread. 

Some of that is happening: an internationally recognized metalsmith school, a drug coalition that’s helping reduce the number of overdoses, blight removal, new downtown businesses in place of long-vacant lots and energized neighborhood groups.

And it’s not just what we see anecdotally. At the Community Foundation, we can see the change in numbers – projects large and small. 

In fact, since 2011, through our Community Initiatives Fund, we’ve had the honor of supporting local activism, nonprofits and engaged citizens with more than $4 million in grants. 

We can count the projects: 178 so far. We can see the snowball effect and how it led to major change-making initiatives, such as Lift Johnstown and then Vision Together 2025. We see blighted properties being erased, one by one, and people excited to re-create and renew those spaces.

As we work with our community to build a vibrant, sustainable future, we want to know what you see, too. All of you.

With our Community Perceptions Survey, we want to see as many perspectives and hear as many voices as possible. 

(Click here to complete the survey. The deadline to take the survey is Monday.)

Maybe you’re one of the hundreds of Vision Together 2025 Capture Team volunteers. 

You’ll have a view from the trenches. Maybe you’re someone who has been around for decades and witnessed the ups and downs firsthand. You’ll have an important perspective of how the efforts now compare to what has been done in the past. Maybe you’re a father or a mother worried for your children and their future.

We want to hear from you. 

All of your voices matter. We aren’t a community that can survive on one solution or one fit. If the past 10 years have taught us anything, it’s that we need to pull together, listen to one another and pursue answers everywhere.

That’s why we hope you will take a few moments to weigh in and that you will encourage others to participate, too. Your voice is important. 

Your perspective will lead us forward and help to make sure that the support our donors make possible is directed in the most impactful ways possible. 

Please make sure you, your voice – your part of this important whole – is represented as we continue to work in the community to re-imagine our future together.

Take the survey

You can take help shape the future of the Johnstown region by completing the Community Foundation for the Alleghenies’ Community Initiatives Fund survey.

There are two ways to get involved, and you can do both:

• Fill out the paper survey on Page A7 of Sunday’s editions of The Tribune-Democrat and mail it to the Community Foundation. The same survey is attached here as a PDF.

And/or ...

• Go online to: https://www.surveygizmo.com/s3/5218669/CFA-Community-Perception

The online survey should take about 10 minutes to complete.

 

Mike Kane is president and Kecia Bal is communications officer of Community Foundation for the Alleghenies.

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