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Guest columnist: A shared vision can benefit an entire community

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This is the boardwalk at Cancer Survivors Park in Greenville. (Photo/Provided)

I recently had the opportunity to walk along the boardwalk of the new Cancer Survivors Park in downtown Greenville. Nestled between Falls Park and Cleveland Park, this unique space will be a treasure for our entire community. After soaking up the raw beauty of the landscape, I admired the accomplishments which brought the construction plan to this point.  

The new park is a multi-year project of the Cancer Survivors Park Alliance (CSPA). However, the land along the river bank is owned by Naturaland Trust, Renewable Water Resources, and the city of Greenville. For CSPA to have achieved its progress so far with architectural plans and construction permits, these land owners had to release control of their properties. In other words, the park is a physical example of various groups setting aside personal agendas to enable something great to happen.  

Let that soak in for a minute: Various groups setting aside personal agendas to enable something great to happen.    

Dana McConnell, executive director of the Center for Developmental Services in Greenville.In the corporate environment, teams are often formed by pulling employees from various departments to work on a shared project. In one group, they could have the expertise of engineers, the marketability of sales, and the profitability of finance. The end result is a much more well-rounded and efficient solution. Even in small companies, a shared vision could utilize their small staff size to provide a quicker response time for gathering input and troubleshooting.

Like the Cancer Survivors Park, the Center for Developmental Services (CDS) is a community effort of multiple independent, non-profit entities that came together for a shared vision. We have partnered to collectively serve the disability community. Each partner at CDS has a different service model that requires physical space, yet each partner also needs room for growth. And since we’re land-locked, the facility is in a predicament because we have no room to add square footage outward.  

What transpired was a wonderful conversation with each partner on how to tackle our greatest need at the moment. With few options available, our community needed most to have more day care space for medically-complex children. This would not only allow parents the opportunity to go back to work, but it would also reduce emergency room visits.

CDS just signed a construction contract that expands space for this day care called the Wonder Center. We are excited to have come this far, and are humbled by the sacrifices each partner made for this to happen. Each organization had to give up a corner of their space to allow for a single service line to grow. I’m proud of our collective efforts and the shared goal that made this expansion possible.

Having a shared vision is not a new concept, but it can be difficult when each entity is not accustomed to thinking in that way. It may also take time, trust and transparency for each group to be willing to risk their piece of the pie. Over time, each group will understand that there is so much more to gain collectively than they could have achieved on their own. Whether it’s releasing land, giving up a corner of space, or combining resources, our community can realize a bigger picture when we share a vision together.

Dana McConnell is the executive director of the Center for Developmental Services in Greenville. She can be reached at Dana.McConnell@cdservices.org.

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