September 2017 Neighbor Spotlight- Lindsey Kennedy
When she first moved in the Rockwood neighborhood, Dr. Lindsey Kennedy admits she “didn’t know anything” about the area. Today, however, she says, they “hit the jackpot.” She loves the “older neighborhood” and being a part of the diverse Lakewood area.
Her main involvement in the area revolves around Lakewood Elementary school. While attending a First Choice Lakewood event, Kennedy was drawn to the school’s family atmosphere and “stunned by the output and productivity of the teachers.” She jumped in- helping to reestablish Lakewood Elementary Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) and becoming a public school advocate.
The “PTA is about building community.” In a school that is 99 percent free/reduced lunch, “it’s not about how much money you can bring- you don’t have to have a ton of money to build community. It’s about being creative.”
At community events, Kennedy has turned her love of crafts into face-painting- always a big draw for kids. She plans events, such as playground meet-ups to engage the community, and help draw families to Lakewood. She seeks different ways to engage the local community- nearly half of which is Hispanic/Latino- such as hosting La Lotería (Bingo).
As PTA president, Kennedy leveraged resources to fund physical improvements at the school: A City of Durham Neighborhood Matching Grant funded a joint-use picnic area; and a Lowes Playground Improvement Grant funded new swings. These tangible improvements improve the look of the school and the community, but are “hard to do with current school budgets.”
Kennedy recognizes “food is very important” to community. She organizes a monthly food truck rodeo at Lakewood Elementary, with a portion of the night’s profit going back to the school. She also organized a brunch to fundraise, and share information about, the school. One of the Lakewood area’s newest businesses, Cocoa Cinnamon, sponsored this year’s Kindergarten breakfast at Lakewood Elementary. In a city with a “hot food scene,” Kennedy hopes to see more restaurants get involved in the community.
Through her community involvement, she enjoys getting to know people and providing an example to her own children- “to have a good experience, you have to be involved.”
Her advice for engaging your community: “Be persistent. There will always be challenges. Find different ways to get things done, and reach the community. Ask for help. Don’t get too upset when things don’t go your way. Volunteer with DPS- there are lots of volunteer needs, from gardening to reorganizing bookshelves.”
For parents in the Lakewood Elementary area, Kennedy encourages them to “look beyond the EOG scores, and “come check us out.” The food truck rally is held the first Tuesday of every month, 5pm-7pm at Lakewood Elementary (2520 Vesson Ave.). The event is open to all.