Chippewa Falls wins international designation
This file photo from May 9, 2014 was taken as CHIP kicked off Compassionate Action Month with a walk in Irvine Park in Chippewa Falls. Since then, the organization has been working on achieving the Compassionate City status from the International Compassion Action Network. CHIP's director, Rhonda Brown, announced Thursday that Chippewa Falls has made the list that has 53 other cities from around the globe.
Chippewa Falls has joined the ranks of the International Compassionate Action Network, becoming one of 54 cities around the world to be designated by that organization as a City of Compassion.
Rhonda Brown, director of the Chippewa Health Improvement Partnership, recently announced that the city’s application to join the network has been accepted.
“It is exciting to see the other cities from across the globe that have also received this designation,” Brown said. “Be proud of yourself, our community and feel blessed.”
CHIP started working toward this goal in May when Mayor Greg Hoffman declared Chippewa Falls a city of compassion. The project was kicked off with a walk through Irvine Park, the first official event in a three-year plan of programs and activities designed to boost the health and well-being of the city’s residents.
“The basic premise for being a city of compassion is to live by the Golden Rule,” Brown said. The network encourages communities to make decisions based on residents’ well being and not just economics.
“When we look at policy or projects, we’re really thinking of the whole person and consider what is best for their mental health and their overall well being,” she said.
But earning the compassionate city status doesn’t close the book on the project. Much more will be happening in the coming months and years.
“To me, the designation is really just a beginning,” Hoffman said. He encourages people to get involved when and where they can.
“There’s a whole group of people out there who just really need someone,” he said. “Sometimes it’s just saying: hi. Sometimes it’s just acknowledging to someone that you see them as a person.”
The mayor said that when Brown first approached him about the program, he was struck by how simple offering help to people can be.
“I would just ask that Chippewa Falls would take the time to talk to people and embrace them,” he said.
One program already underway is the Partners Walking Club. The group meets every Wednesday over the lunch hour and encourages people to get some exercise while at the same time promotes socialization.
Brown said that initiatives like the walking club are exactly what being a compassionate city is all about.
“You bring these ideas up and hope other groups would think that’s a good idea and run with it,” she said. “That’s exactly what (the walking club) did.”
One of the biggest efforts CHIP is pursuing with its status as a compassionate city is creating a legacy community center. It would essentially be a one-stop-shop for needy community members to get assistance.
“We’re looking for a place where nonprofits would be able to share space and talents,” Brown said. She also said CHIP may already have the property for such a facility lined up.
The designation as a city of compassion might also open up opportunities for Chippewa Falls to win various grants. It also gives the city access to a large information sharing network.