As Scott Elliott puts it, discussions about cross-community collaboration have been happening in McKinney for about 15 to 20 years, and some people will want to know what makes this year so different.
It’s a valid question, Elliott said, and it’s one that can be answered with two points: the community’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and to Winter Storm Uri in February.
“That’s what’s different,” Elliott said. “And we’re just going to capitalize on the momentum that’s been established by that type of collaboration.”
That momentum began with the March 2020 creation of One Heart McKinney, an informal COVID-19 response that involved community leaders coming together weekly to assess needs and pool together resources. During the crisis response, the partnership raised and distributed almost $200,000 in grants.
Now, that informal response is evolving into a formal collaboration announced this month by McKinney Mayor George Fuller, McKinney ISD Superintendent Rick McDaniel, Lisa Hermes, McKinney Chamber of Commerce president and CEO and other community leaders. The collaboration aims to address five central needs in the McKinney community as identified by a 2019 University of Texas at Dallas study commissioned by the Mckinney Alliance. Those needs include food and hygiene; mental, physical and spiritual health’ housing; economic stability and education.
“We want to bring the best resources together, and we understand that the best resources are found in many different organizations,” McKinney Mayor George Fuller said. “There’s no one organization that provides all the resources that are needed out there.”
Elliott, who has been named One Heart McKinney’s executive director, has said moving forward as part of the organization’s new era will come in stages. First steps include maintaining a website that serves as a one-stop information location for resources for those who need them. Short term goals also include establishing a common intake process that streamlines the process for those seeking help.
“That common intake process and being able to have our friends and neighbors that need help tell their story just once would be a huge step forward,” Elliott said. “Right now a lot of folks go to this organization, that organization, seeking help. Sometimes those referrals don’t work out just because they don’t qualify for the programs that those organizations provide, but it is incredibly difficult to have to tell your story multiple times to multiple people in multiple locations with an uncertain outcome.”
Long term goals include moving beyond virtual collaboration and establishing a physical co-location and collaboration.
“That is a much longer process that involves land acquisition, need identification, having other organizations come on board and build the campus,” Elliott said.
Overall, the collaboration aims to connect groups across the community, including nonprofits, the city of McKinney, McKinney ISD, members of the business community and members of the faith community, Elliott said.