Provo City looking to better serve citizens

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    By Christa Woodall

    Red and green handkerchiefs bringing forth doves are not usual parts of a press conference, but the Provo Foundation produced magic with ease as they announced a series of plans to better serve Provo citizens.

    Mayor Lewis K. Billings and members of the Provo Foundation unveiled its new Web site as the first of a series of projects that includes a Provo Youth Legacy Park, a Provo Pride Summit and a speaker”s bureau to supply town leaders with presentation material about residents doing great things.

    Two new committees, the Provo Foundation Advisory Action Committee and the Provo Foundation Youth Advisory Council, will head the projects.

    “We”re looking forward to fun things,” said LeRoy Dennis, executive director of the Provo Foundation.

    Started in 1984, the Provo Foundation originally functioned as a part of the Provo Parks and Recreation. Their mission has broadened over the past 19 years. Today they work with groups involved in different aspects of Provo life.

    Because they had such broad interests, the Provo Foundation recently decided to focus its energies on projects to benefit seniors and youth of Provo, Dennis said.

    “The shift in focus came when the board itself decided that they wanted to do something different than they”d been doing for 20 years,” Dennis said.

    The foundation hired outside analysts who conducted a study that defined how the foundation could better serve Provo residents.

    The result was a strategic plan that provided the foundation a new commitment to bring together the diverse residents of Provo.

    “We want to facilitate a dialogue,” Billings said. “Everybody”s different. Everyone has differing needs.”

    The new Web site, www.provofoundation.org, provides residents with information about the programs available to them.

    “It provides a vehicle for greater interconnectivity between members of the community because it is the members of the community who have to come together if we”re going to change the community,” Billings said. “It”ll help facilitate bringing people together.”

    The Provo Foundation”s primary focus is on helping the elderly and the young.

    Miss Provo 2003, BYU student Angela Yorgason, introduced the Senior Initiative to enhance the lives of seniors in Provo.

    “We can draw to the seniors for knowledge and to learn from the past,” Yorgason said. “It”s important to make sure they”re not lost or forgotten.”

    Provo Foundation introduced six improvements they hope to provide to the community”s elderly, including a broad-based senior citizen education and information program, recreational and cultural opportunities, financial and legal assistance programs, and opportunities for community service and multicultural experiences.

    The foundation also established the Provo Foundation Youth Advisory Council to work with the foundation”s Advisory Action Committee in building a sense of community pride.

    “You”re going to see us really try to focus on things that try to give kids a benefit,” Billings said.

    The youth council”s main projects right now are to create a Provo Youth Legacy Park and the Provo Foundation Attic project.

    The Provo Foundation Attic project allows Provo residents to donate old instruments they may have in their attics to the public schools so that children may have more musical opportunities.

    Only four of the 13 elementary schools in Provo have a band and orchestra program, according to the foundation”s Web site.

    The youth committee is also in charge of building a youth legacy park on two to three acres allotted them near Slate Canyon.

    “The Youth Committee, working with other youth, will come up with the ideas on what they want in the park,” Dennis said.

    The committee will utilize high school drafting classes to design park features and facilities and will then ask local service groups for assistance in the park”s construction, Dennis said.

    Working with the students will be the Provo Foundation Advisory Action Committee, a group of volunteers that Billings called a good cross-section of the city.

    This committee includes people with a broad range of interests, from Provo City Council chairwoman Barbara Sandstrom to two BYU students.

    “They”re going to be immensely helpful in trying to be censors of the need and recommenders of the solutions,” Billings said.

    The Provo Foundation is an official non-profit organization that receives most of their funding through donations.

    “People are so tired of being asked for money, and the foundation wants to be about more than just asking for money,” Billings said.

    The new plans proposed by the Provo Foundation match up to their magical presentation with a promise of great things for Provo City.

    “When I was with parks and recreations, you always deal with feisty parents,” Dennis said. “This deals just with positive things. In a way, I don”t need this job, but I thought it was a way to make a positive contribution to Provo. Over time, you”ll see some really nice things come from this.”

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