Image: Keith Hagen, East Lansing Forward Project
East Lansing Forward was created by a group of community members who came together to discuss issues and opportunities that were facing East Lansing and how they could be improved.
“We all want a better East Lansing,” said Keith Hagen, East Lansing Forward Project Coordinator.
Hagen said that dozens of people throughout the community came together to brainstorm fragments of ideas for the organization, and then he helped to drive the ideas further. Hagen described this organization as something that everyone can believe in, and be a part of, regardless of how they’re connected to the City.
East Lansing Forward is currently running a project called Holiday Helper. Hagen said, it is “a cooperation with local residents in the area, and local businesses.”
The main goal of this project is to help people who need it this holiday season. All of the proceeds will go to families from each of the elementary schools in East Lansing.
Holiday Helper uses a “two-prong approach,” said Hagen. New and unwrapped toys are collected at local elementary schools. Additionally, donations from local businesses and residents are collected. East Lansing Forward will also be able to purchase toys and food if needed. Funding for East Lansing Forward comes from donations within the community.
According to Hagen, January and February will be used to organize upcoming projects. East Lansing Forward hopes to organize eight to ten creative and fun projects for 2016.
The organization wants people to notice the community coming together to better themselves and be able to point at positive change and say that they helped to make that happen, said Hagen. “East Lansing Forward would like to try to bridge the gap between people with different views on how either the city should operate, or how the schools should operate.”
When asked about the growth of East Lansing Forward, Hagen said that they hope to “provide annual events that kids and parents can look forward to”, and “a program that people love being a part of, that stands the test of time.”
“We want to start implementing as many things as possible and creating a community where everyone’s voice is heard and everyone’s voice is respected.”