At the December meeting of the Newton County Community Coalition (NCCC), members gathered for a holiday style dinner at the Talkington Foundation building in Neosho.

At the December meeting of the Newton County Community Coalition (NCCC), members gathered for a holiday style dinner at the Talkington Foundation building in Neosho.
To open the meeting past NCCC president Tim Mitchell welcomed those present. Minutes from the November meeting were approved.
Luis Cecenas, the new program coordinator for the Drug Free Communities grant was present at the meeting for the first time. Cecenas will divide his time between Crowder College and NCCC. Office space within the Talkington Foundation building has been allotted for his use.
Cecenas lives in Monett, where he has lived for the past fourteen years. He is a graduate of Monett High School and Drury University. Cecenas served as the Hispanic outreach coordinator at Drury. He has also worked in mental health treatment, for the Social Security Administration working with disability claims, and for the City of Springfield, Missouri, with the MO Work Assistance Program.
"I'm excited to be here," Cecenas said.
"I would like to introduce Ashley Mickelthwaite, director of One Joplin," Mitchell said. "I met her as we were preparing for the opioid summit in Joplin. Ashley played a big role in organizing it. I attended all three of the summits. Joplin's was by far the best. As an organization, it's important that we continue to find ways to move in the right direction, to find tips and hints to work on to form out own group that can live alone without grants."
"I'll give you a little background and a snapshot of what One Joplin is and what we're doing," Mickelthwaite told the group. "Our vision is to have a thriving community of great neighbors. That means everyone is connected to everyone to create that environment where we can all flourish."
One Joplin is a city-wide movement of people who believe Joplin is and can be truly a flourishing community.
"We operate in three primary ways," Mickelthwaite stated.
 These are coalition building, capacity building, and advocacy.
"We are stronger together than separate. We build community tables where everyone has a say,” said Mickelthwaite.
The organization has focus and neighborhood teams, both of which are working together toward making Joplin a stronger, better, closer community.
There are five focus teams in the areas of health, human services, poverty, literacy and transportation and numerous neighborhood teams in Joplin. At this time, there are five active neighborhood groups, another six in process and four that are interested. Overall, Joplin has a total of 98 distinct neighborhoods, defined by both historic and geographical boundaries.
"Our goal is to form a neighborhood council by the end of 2018, with representatives from all neighborhoods to work with our focus teams," Mickelthwaite said.
Funding is vital to the ongoing success.
"One Joplin is not a non-profit. One Joplin is not for profit,” Mickelthwaite said. “We are under the umbrella of United Fund of Southwest Missouri."
Mitchell asked Mickelthwaite to clarify.
"We are grant funded," she replied. "We work under the non-profit umbrella of the United Fund. We are not owned nor directed by United Fund. We are directed by a coalition committee."
The ongoing opioid epidemic is a factor in Joplin, as in any community. "Substance abuse is a common thread running throughout our community," Mickelthwaite stated.
As 2017 ends, One Joplin and Mickelthwaite are looking toward upcoming 2018. "We're now looking at where we need to go from here."
Her presentation evoked interest in considering something similar for Neosho in the future.
The Newton County Community Coalition's next meeting will be from noon to 1 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2018 at the Talkington Foundation, located at 209 N. Valley Street, Neosho.