The Starkville Oktibbeha School District Discovery Center will host "Starkville in the Spotlight", a community resource fair on Thursday, August 17 from 11:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. at the Starkville Sportsplex. The event is free and open to the public and will serve as a showcase of community resources and family supports presented by more than 60 vendors. Food will be on site for purchase, and organizers will offer door prize giveaways.
"The idea behind this event is truly to showcase the many different programs and services available to residents in Starkville," said Elizabeth Williams, who is helping to coordinate the event and also serves as Program Manager for the Discovery Center's Project PEACE. "I believe that attendees of Starkville in the Spotlight will leave with an even greater appreciation of and pride in our great community."
Starkville in the Spotlight vendors include a wide array of community agencies, organizations and resource providers, including not only services available through the school district, but also representatives from Greater Starkville Development Partnership, City of Starkville, Oktibbeha County, OCH Regional Medical Center, Mississippi State University, and East Mississippi Community College. In addition, a variety of community organizations and non-profits will share resources and opportunities, including Starkville Community Theatre, Starkville Area Arts Council, Starkville Strong, JL King Center, and others.
Williams is quick to share that although the event will provide a much-needed showcase for individuals who are actively seeking local resources, it will also offer an opportunity to engage the entire community in what Starkville has to offer.
"In addition to those who may need services, we hope to attract a broader audience who are curious to learn more about the wide range of programs in our area," Williams said. "This is a great event for newcomers to Starkville, people in the service of helping others, individuals looking to plug into volunteer opportunities, and those wanting to network with service-oriented agencies and participants."
Organizers of the event highlight the importance of working together when it comes to meeting needs in the community. They say one of the goals in planning Starkville in the Spotlight was to help different agencies and programs build relationships that can enable greater effectiveness in community service.
"One program, no matter how great or well-funded, simply cannot meet the needs of everyone," Williams shared. "We have to work as a team to make the greatest impact on our community."
Dr. Brandi Burton, who heads the SOSD Discovery Center, echoed the need for working together.
"Through Discovery Center's many programs, we aim to be of service to our Starkville Oktibbeha School District families as well as the community at large," Burton said. "When people come through our doors, we try to help them in every way possible, and often times, that means collaborating with outside agencies.
This type of collaboration was the chief motivator for the Discovery Center, which houses the SOSD grant-based programs, to spearhead the Starkville in the Spotlight event.
As part of the event on August 17, NAACP of Oktibbeha County will host a Voter Registration table. In addition, City, County and State elected officials have been invited to be onsite to visit with community members. Starkville Police, Fire and Utility Departments will participate to share about services, and representatives from the S.M.A.R.T. Bus Transit will share about the community's free transportation services.
"We hope there will be a little something for everyone," Williams said. "From education and healthcare to goverment, recreation and the arts, our community has much to offer, and we're excited to showcase it during Starkville in the Spotlight."