Unity in the Community comes to Cook Park

May 18—LIMA — The inaugural Unity in the Community block party drew families to Cook Park Saturday afternoon.

Children danced and painted their faces in the park while their parents talked to representatives from agencies like the West Ohio Food Bank, Head Start and Rhodes State College.

Matrice Garner and Fifth Ward Councilor Thomas Jones organized Saturday's block party to bring resources directly to the fifth ward and "mend the gaps" in the community.

Parents learned about safe infant sleeping practices from Allen County Public Health, which gave away free pack-and-plays and showed passersby how to administer naloxone — a nasal spray that reverses the effects of an opioid overdose.

Lima Memorial Health System offered free blood pressure checks, CPR lessons and informal sessions with Dr. Susan Kaufman, the system's medical director — one of a dozen or so booths fifth ward residents could visit Saturday.

Proceeds from the block party will benefit a scholarship fund for Lima youth pursuing public safety careers.

Garner organized the block party to bring law enforcement and the community together, so they can know each other's names.

"We hardly see that anymore," Garner said.

The block party expanded to include other resources people may need, like food, college classes or wellness checks.

Garner hopes to repeat the event in other wards throughout the city each year.