KEARNEY — In an effort to increase and grow current program offerings from the Kearney Enrichment Council, the organization hired Kurt Hamilton as program director. His first day was May 20.
“I want each of the programs to take off and grow. I want to be a support system for each of the different programs we have. One of the ones I think I feel most comfortable focusing on for maybe this first year would be the youth programs, so SparkStudios, and bringing back some more kiddos,” he said of goals he’d like to achieve in the near future.
Kearney Enrichment Council oversees the Kearney Downtown Revitalization Group and Firehouse Community Center. The center is home to an after-school program, SparkStudios; the Tech Cafe, which provides free use of computers connected to the internet while also offering lessons on how to use computers and internet-capable devices; and the Senior Social Club, where older community members can gather for games, events and free exercise programs.
The KEC also organizes various community events throughout the year in downtown including Magical Night: A Kearney Christmas, the annual Halloween bash and Movies in the Park in Lions Park. The organization is also spearheaded a fundraising campaign to raise $300,000 for the Lions Park splashpad effort.
The splashpad campaign, Hamilton said, is something everyone at the enrichment council is excited about.
“Once that splashpad is done, it’s going to be a really great thing for our community,” he said, adding he also hopes to get to know people throughout the community and learn what programs they would like to see the KEC offer for families.
Enrichment Council Executive Director Jenny Hayes said it was critical to hire a program director so that person could oversee the Firehouse’s operations and oversee community events so she can direct more attention to the splashpad effort.
“It’s a wonderful opportunity for us to take some of the leaps we’ve been wanting to take and with more talent we can do those things,” she said.
Hamilton brings expertise in working with nonprofits such as youth organizations and food pantries and has master’s of business administration. He worked previously in Ottawa, Kansas, as director for a not-for-profit called Theology Action and Understanding.
“We were a high school-focused nonprofit that did theology engagement. We were really focused on helping poor kids in impoverished communities to come together and do fun activities like church camps or church camp weeks. It was a lot of fun. I did that for the last four or five years,” he said.
Hamilton said unlike those in corporate settings, he likes getting to use his business degree and experience for a different purpose.
“I’m looking forward to seeing what Kearney wants,” he said.