Project RISE (Reaching Independence through Support and Education) is a community support program which provides hope to struggling families. Here in Aurora, we believe in helping those who want to be helped. Not to mention, these families WORKED HARD to change their lifestyle and to get where they’re at now and it shows!
Additionally, we’ve been working closely with Amy Blansit of the Drew Lewis Foundation who’s been working on similar projects through Springfield’s Northwest Project. By presenting new opportunities, Amy gives communities chances to grow and prosper. Basically, Amy Blansit is a BOSS and we are very grateful to have her our team. (Thank you, Amy!)
In March of 2019, eight AH-MAZING families graduated from the initial phase of Project Rise and we cannot be more proud. Not only have we seen great progress within in the program, but also with the individuals themselves. The families are more confident, more secure, and more proud from when they initially entered the program and it shows! (How many times can we say the word “proud?”)
We really do appreciate all of those who supported this project from the very beginning. Not to mention, all of our community members (you know who you are!) whose efforts and support made this all possible. Furthermore, we want to give a big THANK YOU to all the families who put their trust in this program and for their never-ending commitment.
?? Please, let us all give a round of applause to all the graduating families (listed below)! ??
Kevin & Stephanie
For those who are interested in being a part of or wanting to learn more about this program, please check out Project RISE’s Facebook page.
In the past 10 years, so much has made a comeback; bell bottom jeans, Polaroids, and the Jonas Brothers have worked their way back into our hearts. Archery, in the past 10 years, has become a popular sport in high schools and colleges around the midwest, especially in Missouri. The sport teaches athletes about focus and determination while improving quick math skills. In the small town of Sarcoxie, archery is one of their most popular and fastest growing sports to play.
Meet Ally Nordell
Ally Nordell, a freshman at Sarcoxie High School, first took up archery as a bet way back in the fifth grade. She and a friend decided to compete against each other to see who was the better archer. Unfortunately, Ally lost and didn’t make Sarcoxie’s archery team but she was not deterred. The same competition took place the next year and to her surprise, she made the team. Little did she know what would be in store for her archery career. Ally has competed in different states around the country and even in Canada. Her awards won have been taller than she is!
Ally has been awarded the top overall ranking in a national and international competition. Her latest and greatest accomplishment was shooting to become the top-ranked overall female at the National Archery in the Schools Program (NASPs) All-Star Championship held in Calgary, Canada. With four other countries in attendance, Ally shot a 298 with a perfect score being a 300. After winning, Ally came back home to a proud town and high school, full of supports who were excited to share her incredible accomplishment with her.
Feeling underwhelming yet? Just wait. Ally has had success in other fields as well. The 15-year-old has had two books published in the last two years. “Bared” and “Feared” are books one and two of a three-part series, a gripping tale of a young “Lupa” (she-wolf) out to find the truth about her father’s murder and mother’s disappearance. Ally explained that her goal after graduating high school would be to go to college and receive a degree in creative writing and architecture.
Ally’s hard work and creative mind will allow her to go anywhere her heart desires. We know where ever she aims, she’s sure to hit the bullseye.
Like most little girls, Lacie Holland dreamt of her wedding day from childhood. She couldn’t imagine that her childhood play would become a career.
Real life interrupted Lacie’s wedding dreams after starting her own family. She moved to another community but felt called back to Buffalo. She jumped at the chance to return to her roots when she learned that a retail space was available downtown and hasn’t looked back since.
The decision to come home to Buffalo changed everything for Lacie and her sister Kacie. They partnered to start Nora Emerson with their children in mind, using the names of their oldest children to start a local family business. Now their thriving business not only supports their families, but helps support other small businesses in the community.
Lacie loves being able to walk to work from her home, stopping at Maple and Main coffee and interacting with other businesses in town. She knows how much hard work is put into opening a business and want to support her fellow business owners. This hard work is something that she wants to showcase to her daughters. She shows them every day that if you work you can achieve your dreams. Her top priority is being able to leave a legacy in Buffalo for her two daughters.
Nora Emerson Bridal
“Nora Emerson Bridal was created by two sisters who are also blessed to be the best of friends. Lacie is a professional wedding photographer. Kacie is a professional hair stylist specializing in wedding and event hair. They share a love for all things weddings and together have more than 20 years in the wedding industry. Named after our two oldest daughters, Nora and Emerson, our store’s mission is to create a one of a kind dress shopping experience for women and girls in Buffalo MO and the surrounding areas. We offer gowns and accessories for all shapes, sizes, budgets, and needs. We would be honored to help dress you on your special day!” – noraemersonbridal.com
Here in Marshfield, MO we have a very unique cross-section of Americana. Our town is home to the only intersection of Route 66 and the TransAmerica Bike Trail (also called Route 76). We are the only spot in the country that has this intersection and the opportunity to meet all the people who travel through here. But, what is the Transamerica Bike Route?
In 1976, the founders created the bike path for America’s 200th birthday, calling it the Bikecentennial. Today, this path crosses the country to see sights like Yellowstone National Park, Grand Teton, and Mammoth Cave National Park to name a few. It ends in the beautiful Chesapeake Bay, where you can enjoy Virginia’s beaches and national monuments, such as Arlington National Cemetery.
In Marshfield, during the summer months, it is not uncommon to walk into Smokey J’s Pizza and run into a cyclist from Germany or Switzerland who is braving this once in a lifetime TransAmerica Trail. Riders are looking to experience these small towns and feel the charm of the areas they visit. Marshfield residents love to hear the stories of all the different people coming through the community. Some people ride the trail for loved ones they have lost. Some people want to explore the country. Heck, some people just really love to bike!
The residents will tell stories of their own, like how our town played a part in the Civil War and how Edwin Hubble was once a resident. This welcoming atmosphere is something that the midwest is famous for. But we take pride in truly being the embodiment of hospitality. Between Route 66 and the TransAmerica Trail, Marshfield brings in folks from far and wide. With all this diversity, we maintain a cozy small town feel.
GRO spoke with Hannah & Kelby Rader, owners of The Garden Exchange by Rader’s Farm in Aurora, about running their business, their big plans for the future and finding a deeper connection and sense of community through it all.
The Garden Exchange is located at 22 E Olive, Aurora, MO 65605. You can follow them on Facebook (facebook.com/RadersFarm/) and Instagram (instagram.com/the.garden.exchange/)
GRO: How did you get started?
Kelby: We have been involved in gardening since we were young. Hannah has always grown flowers and mums and I have always been intrigued with plants. Following our interests in gardening and farming, we opened The Garden Exchange by Rader’s Farm, which is an urban farm and coffee shop. We got started 4 years ago and we worked out of our house. The intent was to grow more than we needed and give surplus away; we had not originally intended to start a business. However, the business began to grow organically, our operations kept expanding and we began advertising on Facebook.
Hannah: Three years ago, I didn’t understand how plants were part of God’s purpose for our lives. But everything happens for a reason, and God told me that Hawgwild BBQ building is where we would have our business. The restaurant had shut down and the building had just stood vacant – an eyesore for the community. At the beginning of this year, we felt it was the right time to make a move on this building. We made an offer on the property and to our surprise, the offer was accepted. All for the glory of God.
Kelby: People are excited about seeing things happen in Aurora. All this is happening during the COVID pandemic and yet our business plans are still moving forward and people are coming out to support us.
GRO: What is the biggest challenge of running your own business?
Kelby: There are always challenges that come with opening a business. Hannan and I have three kids under 5 – 5, 2.5 and 1 years old. Hannah juggles it all – taking care of the kids, cutting flowers, schedule deliveries. The building we bought is a former restaurant so we are doing some interior and exterior renovations to update the look of the place. I am doing all the renovation work myself, in addition to working at my full time job, finding time to be with my family, participating in my church, and running the Garden Exchange with Hannah.
GRO: What is the most rewarding aspect of running the business?
Hannah: The most rewarding aspect of running the business is definitely the community that it brings. It is very rewarding to have people become regular customers and continuously support us. These people are not just our customers but these relationships have turned into friendships.
GRO: What is the next big project or goal you are working on?
Hannah: This fall is a busy time for us. We had the grand opening of the coffee shop in mid-November. Shortly after that, we launched our Community Christmas event where we sold live Christmas trees, featured local vendors and craft makers, welcomed Santa for a visit, offered carriage rides and much more!
Kelby: Our business sits on a good size parking lot. Our goal is to turn this parking lot into a real urban garden with raised beds for Hannah’s cut flowers, a place to grow vegetables and paths throughout the beds to create places for people to explore and linger while at the Garden Exchange. The farm will be for production for our own business but we also want it to be an educational experience for our customers. Our overall goal with this business is to provide for our family but also to build it with ministry in mind – focus on building relationships and positively affecting people’s lives. We would love for this to be someplace that kids want to visit in Aurora, because we currently consider there to be a lack of options for the young ones.
GRO: What advice would you give your younger self?
Hannah: Generosity is something I have definitely learned through this process of starting and growing the business. It is better to be generous with people rather than see what you can take from them. This has been an opportunity of growth for me.
Kelby: I have always wanted to be in position to be generous with time, money, anything else I can give. I used to think that I had to make it big before I would do that, but the truth is you can start today.
GRO: What’s your favorite thing about Aurora?
Hannah: I have lived here my whole life but I can’t say I had a favorite thing about Aurora until recently. Ever since we started the business, we have been invited to participate in so many events; it has just blown me away. For example, the Aurora Auto Fest invited us to decorate for the event and we really enjoyed that. It feels really good to see people supporting people and I feel like a new era has emerged. People care about the community and they want to make a difference.