You may know her as the , but on Labor Day, Kim Kenney began wearing yet another hat.
Kenney recently formed the Carrollwood Northdale Area Community Organization., an all-volunteer group of residents and business owners that donates time at local schools, nonprofits and neighborhoods.
CNACO member Kristen Rink Votta of Fitness-Tex Personal Training the need for the group is evident.
“I think the Carrollwood community has wanted this for a long time," she said. "I feel honored that we now have an organization that wants to make a difference in our community.”
Bridging gaps between north Tampa's communities is another goal of the organization, Kenney said.
“The goal of CNACO is to build a stronger sense of community by incorporating residents, business owners, advocates for the Carrollwood, Northdale and Lake Magdalene area by volunteering at different civic organizations or events, schools and community events,” said Kenney.
Though members will have the opportunity to learn about one another’s businesses, networking is simply a byproduct of the organization.
“It’s more to engage the community in what’s out there,” said Kenney. “One of the reasons I want to do this is to build a better economy. We need to start by being engaged as a society. I can’t - on my own - do that for every community, state or country, but I can start on my own level – in my own community, to hopefully start a ripple effect. It gives people the opportunity to really feel like they a part of a community.”
By forming an advisory committee with four local business owners, the first place Kenney wants CNACO influence felt is in local middle schools. Kenney has recruited volunteers like Votta to tutor middle school students in pre-algebra and algebra.
Her second goal is to facilitate needs within the community.
“For instance, Gaither High School needs five people to work at the football game so the parents can actually watch their kids play,” said Kenney. “We need volunteers.”
Kenney said she would love to have groups like the Carrollwood Area Business Association or the Kiwanis Club join CNACO in a community service project.
She is also working on a potential neighborhood community event - a holiday tree-lighting with a local business association. If the event comes together, Kenney hopes to invite schools and local vendors.
“Whether it be decorating holiday cookies or ornaments," Kenney said, "we want to engage the community to get together.”
CNACO member Lisa Demmi of Cake Marketing Mechanics explained that she discovered CNACO on Facebook, and joined the organization prior to even knowing it was founded by Kenney, a friend of hers.
“It is part of my personal growth to give back to the community,” said Demmi. “It is important to establish a sense of community. If the community thrives, we thrive. It’s important to share knowledge and support one another. Growing up, we knew our neighbors. We’ve gotten away from that. CNACO is a way to bring that back around.”
Unlike other organizations, CNACO if family-friendly and encourages kids of all ages to volunteer with their families.
“We have a small town atmosphere in Carrollwood,” said Kenney. “We are just missing the community involvement. Don’t just drive home, pull the car in the garage, close the garage door and pretend that there is nothing else out there. Get engaged. It has to happen at the local level. If we want to make a change, it has to happen here first.”
To join CNACO or to have Kenney speak at your event about CNACO, visit the organization's Facebook page.