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Her Connections United The Community

Take a look back at this inspirational story about how one woman helped bring the community together.

Editor's note: This story originally ran in 2012. We're putting the spotlight on it again to illustrate the accomplishments one person can make.

Having a block party and need a grill master? Need help at your kid's Cub Scout meeting? Or mentors for a chess club?

Kim Kenney can help.

The Carrollwood resident and former financial planner recently put down her tax code books and picked up social media in an effort to connect the community and help organizations.

Over the summer, she launched the Carrollwood Northdale Area Community Organization and has been working to unite people ever since.

The all-volunteer group of residents and business owners donate time and knowledge to schools, nonprofits and neighborhoods.

A couple weeks ago, Kenney helped find volunteers to pitch in at the Gaither High School concession stand so parents could watch the game. Five volunteers showed up.

Connecting people with causes is an effort to improve the community as a whole, Kenney explained.

"If we improve our schools, our local community's economy will improve," she said.

That improvement goes from small school focused volunteer efforts to large community based events.

When the Carrollwood Area Business Association decided they wouldn't be doing the Carrollwood Tree Lighting ceremony this year because of lack of manpower, Kenney saw an opportunity.

"It used to be huge," said Noreen Klein, immediate past president of CABA. "We'd have 1,000 people out there. It was big."

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Kenney asked the organization if she could seek help from others and CABA agreed.

The result is "Happy Holly Day," a community festival celebrating all holidays with more than 100 vendors, crafts, an ugly sweater contest, fruit cake bake off and  entertainment by area school musicians. The fun will happen on Saturday, Dec. 8 at Northdale Recreation Center, 15550 Spring Pine Drive.

The event is an effort by numerous influential groups in the community including CABA, The Northdale Civic Association, OWL's, Hillsborough County Parks and Recreation Department, Business Networking International along with Kenney's organization.

"We wanted to create community involvement not just a family festival," Kenney said.

And she's done just that.

Money raised from the event will go to the various local schools who provide entertainment at Happy Holly Day. And vendors will not only sell their products they'll also offer activities and crafts for the public at their tables.

Rick Valdez, area program superivsor at Northdale Recreation Center, jumped at the chance to work with Kenney on the event.

"We're always looking for good partners to offer events to the community and after talking with her and getting to know her a little bit I realized she was genuine and her true inteest are in build the community and connect people which is one of our missions," Valdez said.

The goal of Happy Holly Day is draw between 3,000-5,000 attendees.

Valdez is optimistic about making that goal.

"We won't know for sure for a while, but by the looks of things, everything looks to be going really well," he said.

While planning for Happy Holly Day Kenney maintains her role of connecting. On a recent day CNACO's Facebook status update requesting algebra and math tutors for Carrollwood Middle School.

Kenney's goal is to grow CNACO organically and through social media. When someone posts a request, she ask for others to reply with a way they can help.

And it's working.

That same update asking for tutors was shared by another network, and liked by two people. If the process works correctly the update will keep getting shared until someone replies that they can help.

To find out more about Carrollwood Northdale Area Community Organization or request help find them on Facebook or call 727-365-5806. To find out about Happy Holly Day go to their Facebook Page.

Kim Kenney April 03, 2013 at 12:01 PM
Thank you for re-engaging our community. Happy Holly Day raised over $3,000 for local schools. We are always in need of volunteers to help at different community events.

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