Good Neighbors

Good Neighbors: Introducing Amanda Slentz

 Amanda Slentz- WIC Coordinator

Amanda Slentz- WIC Coordinator

This week’s good neighbor is also a community leader, and while she may be embarrassed to be called it, she is a true servant leader. She has been kindly and compassionately caring for families, leading organizations throughout our region, and was nominated Delaware County’s 2012 person of the year. 

Blackford County’s WIC program is joined with 6 other East Central Indiana counties under the leadership of Amanda Slentz, WIC Coordinator. For 15 years now she’s faithfully guided our region’s program. Graduating as a registered Dietitian, her passion was to focus on community work within her field. At first, Amanda looked toward the Purdue extension office but by the time she finished her master’s degree there was a hiring freeze. Once the community position she had long hoped to fill was open, she had a family. WIC was a good choice for her as it didn’t require long evenings full of meetings. It allowed her to use her skills and talents and raise her young family. “What I like most is helping people. People will compare us to food stamps but we’re a much different program!” WIC, at it’s heart, is educational. And where is she most proud of our WIC program? “Probably the breastfeeding part. We’re big breastfeeding supporters and actually Indiana WIC has a really strong breastfeeding system. A lot of states are looking toward us as an example with our peer counseling program... Over 70% of our moms initiate breastfeeding in Blackford county!”

People are so appreciative and polite. I think it doesn’t feel like a “hand out.” It’s a store. I’m really picky about what goes out on the shelves so it feels nice to come in.
— Amanda Slentz

But that isn’t Amanda’s only hat. 6 years ago she plotted a course for an opportunity store that would fill in basic needs for families who qualify for WIC and so Silver Linings was born. The currency is in the form of cards that you earn and the store is the second Saturday of every month in the basement of the Hartford City First Presbyterian Church. Upon walking in you see tables full of new and gently used baby gear, baby furniture, personal items, diapers, and racks upon racks of new and good condition used clothing. Currently her funding comes from Women of Worth, the Blackford County Community Foundation, Sororities and the Presbyterian Church. But where do all of those racks of new clothes come from? A few are from sweet volunteers and donors but the vast majority is hand picked by Amanda in her personal time using their grant resources. No one pays her for her time and her volunteers, while faithful, are small in number. Her store is successful and a great resource to so many in our community. When asked where she thinks the success comes from, “People are so appreciative and polite. I think it doesn’t feel like a “hand out.” It’s a store. I’m really picky about what goes out on the shelves so it feels nice to come in.” 

 Silver Linings Opportunity Store

Silver Linings Opportunity Store

Her third public hat in the community is her involvement in the 4H community. She’s Secretary of the Fair Board, the entertainment chair, and her husband is the president. 4H is made up of clubs centered around interests like beef, dance, tractors, homemaking and the newly added Shooting Sports which instructs in safety and marksmanship. Opportunities for involvement start in Kindergarten-2nd grade with Mini 4H. Children, partnered with an older youth or adult, can participate in 4H by creating projects which can be entered in the fair. However, there are no meetings for Mini 4H. Starting in 3rd grade and running through Senior year is regular 4H which is made up of specific clubs such as the Dog Club and Dance Club and then the General Club where you can invent your own projects. “We have such a tight group of volunteers that are friends. I’ve always felt very strongly about 4H. You can do everything from sewing or cooking to building a rocket. You get to develop a lot of leadership skills: the kids have their own boards with councils and a president. There’s camps, trips and science workshops. The general club is very open and the specific clubs, for example with the Beef Club, they ask the kids what they want to learn about... They’ll often meet at someone’s house who has a beef and go out to the barn and learn about grooming, tying the knot for harnessing and parts of the beef.” With all of its benefits, you’d expect 4H to be costly but there’s only a yearly state cost of $15 to participate! There are some intrinsic costs if you’re going to show animals but many clubs and projects may only ask for a small amount to help pay for snacks or trips.

Amanda belonged to 4H all 10 years in her youth and has remained dedicated through her adulthood. Her lifelong involvement shows up in her diplomatic leadership, dedication to community service, educating others in healthy living and her loyalty to the organizations in which she serves. She has taken the 4H’s to heart and is an invaluable gift to our community.

Thank you, Amanda. 

Good Neighbors: Introducing Joni Lenz

Joni Lenz, a Montpelier native and rehab nurse, has been dedicating two afternoons a week at the Montpelier Civic Center for nearly 5 years now. She leads a senior citizen's exercise class every Tuesday and Thursday from 4-4:30 PM. But what started as a simple way to help people stay limber has obviously turned into much more. As the ladies filed in they signed a condolence card for the family of a much loved group member who passed away two weeks ago. Francis was their longest living member at 99 years old. They shared moments from their week and asked about family members. Increasing isolation and lack of movement can be an issue for the elderly, Joni's group provides both friendship and injury preventing exercises. 

 Inez Reasoner, 93.

Inez Reasoner, 93.

"I started the group 5 years ago this April for my mother and aunt (her sister) who had a stroke." Said Joni. "I'm a rehab nurse and knew it would help both of them. We just do overall stretch exercises, standing balance and some weights to keep their arms strong. At first I wondered if I was really helping anyone (I am not certified in any kind of exercise therapy) until I realized I was helping myself just stay limbered up." 

"This group helps keep us moving! I have some back trouble and whenever I come here and exercise, I always feel better. We'd like more people coming so they can feel better too!", shared Marion Warner.

This group helps keep us moving! I have some back trouble and whenever I come here and exercise, I always feel better. We’d like more people coming so they can feel better too!
— Marion Warner

When asked why she's still leading the group, Joni said, "I continue to do it because all the ladies are very dedicated to coming. They always let me know if they are going to miss a class or if someone has been sick, someone else will call and check on them and report back to the group. It's just the right thing do, that's why I still do it." 

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Joni is a kind and generous benefit to her community, giving both her time and energy. But what she's doing is something we all can do: picking a skill and sharing it.

We'd love for you to join us in sharing your skills and talents with one of our fantastic community organizations or groups! Contact us via our contact page or facebook message for more details! 

Montpelier Community Days Inspiring the Community

A woman and 2 children enjoy the event

This week we're focusing on stories coming from Montpelier. We were invited to join Montpelier Elementary School's January Community Day on Friday, January 29, 2016, where visitors are welcome and student's families are encouraged to come. With pop music blaring and everyone dancing, Mr. Fox began the high energy meeting cracking jokes and dancing along with the kids. His kindness and care were evident as he encouraged the kids on their recent testing improvement and positive citizenship. The microphone was then passed to each teacher who shared highlights from the month and named top students, not just academically but also naming students recognized for their kindness and compassion.

 Man and girl enjoying the event

Man and girl enjoying the event

Happening this month, every classroom is collecting change to partner with Swing of Faith for an adaptive playground swing so their friends in the life skills class can swing as well. If you'd like to help, please contact Montpelier Elementary School. Also, they've started their 20 day countdown to ISTEP testing and are looking to further improve their scoring by classroom cooperation and focus!

Tell us about your good neighbors, positive stories, and events by messaging us on Facebook or submitting a form here

Good Neighbors: Introducing Granny's Bloomers!

Mike and Linda Guffey purchased the downtown building which houses several businesses, including Foister's Flowers. What wasn't anticipated was their purchase of Foister's Flowers itself. "I didn't want to lose the rent, and these people really didn't want to lose their jobs. This place needed to stay open." Thus, Granny's Bloomers was born.

If we can make this business work, we can do more, but we have to get our name out there. Granny has the answer for your needs!
— Mike Guffey

Mike is an engaging man full of ideas and care for his community. He has lots of plans for upgrades to draw people into the shop but he started with a very pragmatic repair: A two way swinging entrance door. For years, the entrance of Foister's Flowers has been a little confusing, even to it's regulars. It's new door and fresh take on marketing, including kid's coloring pages of Granny in the newspaper, are signaling a new beginning for an old community favorite. "If we can make this business work, we can do more, but we have to get our name out there. Granny has the answer for your needs!"

Supporting locally owned businesses helps lift up and encourage our community! Remember Granny's Bloomers this coming Valentine's Day.

To contact Granny's Bloomers, visit and like their facebook page, stop in at 110 E Main St in Hartford City or call (765) 348-3892.

 Granny's Bloomer's bouquet

Granny's Bloomer's bouquet

 The door conundrum 

The door conundrum 

 Granny Bloomer's Flower Refridgerator

Granny Bloomer's Flower Refridgerator

Good Neighbors: Introducing Josslyn's Joyful Christmas

 Josslyn Gee with Santa

Josslyn Gee with Santa

As a way to celebrate the life of her granddaughter, and mourn her loss, Jaunice Bowman asked her friends to do a random act of kindness in Josslyn's memory. Baby Josslyn Gee, the daughter of Jessica O'Hern and Michael Gee, passed away in June of this year. Grandma Jaunice began a Facebook page and beautiful kindnesses have flowed out to friends and neighbors through her efforts. 

 Josslyn Gee
Our community really comes together when needed...
— Lisa Crawford

At the same time, Lisa Crawford and her Facebook resale community were looking for their annual community holiday project. When she saw Jaunice's acts of kindness for Baby Josslyn Gee, who passed away in June, she knew what she wanted to do. "On November 17th I asked the group to help adopt and donate a $5 gift to children of the local Head Start at the Armory which numbered 34 children. Within a day all children were adopted and more people wanted to help so we took on the Junior High Head Start and still more wanted to help. We adopted the Montpelier Head Start, totaling 72 children adopted for Christmas."

"Our community really comes together when needed," said Lisa. "We learned that in December 2011 when our house burnt down and we had nothing left. They took care of us, replacing our belongings and buying Christmas gifts for our oldest granddaughter." 

To connect with Jaunice and her community of Kindness, please visit Josslyn's Joyful Christmas. Do you have a Good Neighbor that you would like to nominate? Message us via our Facebook page or go to our contact page and fill out the form. We will get back to you with a response as soon as we can. Thanks in advance for participation!