Ward 1 founders

Three of Ward 1 Community Action Committees founding members are shown from left: Gail Patterson-Gladney, Rev. Aaron Cobbs and his wife, Dorothy Cobbs. The three members along with several other people started the committee 10 years ago. Aaron Cobbs served as the group’s first president, while Gladney is the current president.

Ten years ago, a group of residents who live on the south side of South Haven, decided to form a group to improve their neighborhood and the lives of the people who live there.

Since that time, The Ward 1 Community Action Committee, named for the South Haven ward in which it is located, has embarked on a variety of projects that have not only helped its neighborhood but the greater South Haven area, as well.

To recognize its accomplishments over the past decade, the committee will celebrates its 10th anniversary at its upcoming annual Spring Conference.

Scheduled from 10 a.m.-noon, Saturday, May 15, this year’s virtual conference will focus on ways people can cope with the social and emotional effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Your Survival Kit for COVID 19: Relationships and Health” will feature guest speakers Danielle Persky, deputy director of the Van Buren/Cass District Health Department, Heather Barr, volunteer coordinator and victim advocate for Van Buren County Domestic Violence Coalition and Deb Hess, CEO of Van Buren Community Mental Health Authority.

As part of the annual conference, the Ward 1 committee will take time out to honor two of its founding members, Rev. Aaron Cobbs, the first president of the organization, and Van Buren County Commissioner Gail Patterson-Gladney, who now leads the committee.

While attending the conference, people will be eligible for a number of door prizes, including gift certificates to local stores and restaurants and a glass art piece created by artist Ruth Knoll.

People who want to attend the virtual event can register at the committee’s gmail account at wardonesouthhaven@gmail.com and include their full name and email address. They will then receive a Zoom invitation to the conference.

The annual spring conference is just one of the programs and activities the Ward 1 Community Action Committee has undertaken over the years.

“Starting with the formation of the ‘Seed of Hope’ Scholarship to help high school seniors attend Lake Michigan College to forming the Ward 1 Community/Police Task Force, this group of engaged citizens has always found ways to serve those in the community who might not be heard,” said Beverly Brown, a member of the committee. “The committee has endeavored to make the city and its services available to all.”

Other projects undertaken by the Ward 1 committee include spearheading improvements at Elkenburg Park, creation of a community garden, annual Christmas caroling at nursing homes, conducting a farm seminar, high school leadership seminar and City of South Haven Town Hall meeting, spring clean-ups, a student internship program and organizing annual community picnics at Elkenburg Park.

“Each project has been done with volunteers from all over the city, the city government, as well as working with other worthy organizations,” Brown said. “It truly is an organization which seeks to find ways to build relationships and help our city have engaged citizens.”