Contact: Karl Hertz
Hospital hosts is third annual Summer Block Party
By Kim Phagan-Hansel
Three years ago, Memorial Hospital of Converse County officials were looking for a way to give back to their community. That's when the idea for a Summer Block Party came to life, becoming an event that has grown each year since. This year's annual Summer Block Party on June 12 from 5-7 p.m. is predicted to be the biggest one yet with free entertainment, food and activities for local residents.
"A couple of years ago we decided we wanted to do something different than our annual company picnic," said Felicia Smith, director of hospitality at Memorial Hospital of Converse County. "It's something to give back to the community."
With a variety of activities from bounce houses and games to photo booths and face painting, there's entertainment and games for all ages at the event in the hospital parking lot. Typically the ambulance and fire trucks are onsite to tour and there's free food for everyone. Fun on the Go will have several bounce houses, as well as its new bungee trampoline on hand for the kids to enjoy. Hotdogs, chips and drinks will be served, as well at cotton candy, snow cones and Italian sodas.
"The feedback we get back from the community is the best thing," Smith said. "The first year was so questionable because we didn't know what to expect. It helped us figure out what worked and what didn't."
This year's event will also include five different non-profits organizations on site – Back 2 School Blitz, King's Portion, Converse County Coalition Against Violence, Converse County Humane Society and Relay for Life – providing information about the various services they offer to the community. In addition, this year, donations will be accepted to King's Portion and the Back 2 School Blitz to help accommodate the expected increased need for assistance in the community this year with the recent layoffs in the coal, natural gas, oil and uranium sectors.
"This year, we're anticipating with the downturn that these organizations will be hit harder," Smith said. "We're hoping to help them get ahead of that increased demand."
For Smith and her team on the hospital's engagement committee, the event is a lot of work, but it's also rewarding to see community members, as well as hospital staff enjoying the event. Even though it's not required that hospital staff attend the event, many doctors, nurses and other staff take advantage of the summer event with their own families, said Shawna Praeuner, public relations specialist at Memorial Hospital of Converse County.
"It's nice to see the hospital employees out and about with their families enjoying themselves," Praeuner said. "I like seeing everybody out and about."
The planning team is expecting a larger turnout for the event this year, which has grown from just more than 800 people the first year to more than 1,000 last year. With the economic downturn, the free event provides plenty of food, activity and fun for all ages.
"It gives community members something to do, especially now when the economy isn't as good as it was a couple of years ago," Praeuner, said.
For more information on the event, contact Praeuner at 307-358-2122 ext. 1841, or come to the Summer Block Party June 12 from 5-7 p.m.