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McHenry County Community Foundation bringing residents' ideas to the table

Published: Monday, April 21, 2014 1:28 p.m. CDT • Updated: Tuesday, April 22, 2014 12:19 a.m. CDT

WOODSTOCK - The Chicago Community Trust was founded nearly 100 years ago over a dinner conversation. To celebrate its anniversary, the nonprofit is going back to its roots and plans to facilitate hundreds of mealtime gatherings focused on listening to the needs and concerns of the community.

On May 12, to celebrate its 99th anniversary, The Chicago Community Trust is launching its On the Table initiative, which will gather at least 10,000 Chicagoland citizens through hundreds of small-group discussions ranging in a variety of topics.

The McHenry County Community Foundation is spearheading the initiative's efforts in the county, and the group expects to have between 25 and 30 roundtable discussions, said Robin Doeden, McHenry County Community Foundation executive director.

"I think the great part of this is it will give a voice to everybody," Doeden said. "We're not just looking for leaders in the community. We want to hear from everybody."

The discussions will take place on May 12. There is no set agenda for the conversations, and the topics, issues, and location of the discussions are entirely up to the participants involved, Doeden said.

"It's wide open," she said. "It all depends on who's sitting at the table."

The McHenry County Community Foundation plans to use the discussions as a method of determining where the organization will disburse its grants for the upcoming year. The group awarded $750,000 to nonprofits last year, and it hopes to increase that number this year, Doeden said.

"Every year we try to set up a priority group we will serve," she said. "Last year it was veteran services. We could do that one again, or identify some new ones."

Doeden said some of the confirmed discussions include affordable health care, issues about transportation, care for pets, and heroin use in McHenry County. Groups are recommended to be between 8 and 10 people, she said. Residents can register for a table at onthetable2014.com to call 866-737-6951.

Each participant will receive a survey that they will send back that describes what was discussed at the meeting.

"People always say, 'If they only asked, I could solve the world's problems,' " Doeden said. "Well here's that chance to be heard."

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