It’s April, and for the fourth year in a row, I am writing to share a very personal component of my life. On April 13, 2014 in my community of Overland Park, Kansas, a lone shooter pulled into the parking lot of the Jewish Community Campus and murdered Dr. William Corporon and his 14-year old grandson, Reat Underwood, as the young man was preparing to audition for a high school singing competition being sponsored by the Jewish Community Center. From there, this madman turned south and drove about a mile more to Village Shalom, where he shot and killed Teresa LaManno who had been visiting her mother. Hatred had a devastating impact on my town that Sunday afternoon… but the perpetrator of this hate crime did not win… instead of instilling fear, as he had hoped, the broad community banded together, propped up one another and unified to show its mettle and support for our diverse city.
While we have seen this story play itself out again and again across our nation, what the perpetrators of these crimes never anticipate is the ever-increasing strength of the community they leave in their wake. One way that I have personally sought to work through all of this hatred and stay true to my mission statement of Connecting, Inspiring and Empowering Community is to immerse myself headlong into a very special organization called SevenDays®.
SevenDays® engages all people to discover commonalities and overcome evil with acts of kindness. Specifically, for one heavily programmed, highly concentrated week in April of each year, and supported by other activities and by a youth movement at other times of the year, SevenDays® seeks to bring together the community.
In my belief system, to save one human life means to save the world. To that end, I believe the work that SevenDays® is doing to eliminate hate crimes by bringing together people of different backgrounds is life-saving work. Each program and activity hosted by the organization helps to educate, inform and unite those who attend. I feel it is my personal responsibility as a citizen of the world to engage in these initiatives with SevenDays®.
For anyone in the Kansas City Metropolitan area interested in connecting with community to prove the power of love, faith, community and determination, I invite you to join me for SevenDays® 2018 from Tuesday, April 10th – Monday, April 16th. Once again this year, in an act of community-wide solidarity, support and love for one another, with the partnership of several organizations, the families of the victims of the April 13, 2014 shooting have spearheaded a week-long series of events and activities. Together, we will embrace diversity across races, religions and cultures to promote understanding and encourage kindness to “Make a Ripple to Change the World.”
Below is a listing of the SevenDays® 2018 events with registration links. Most events are free; all others are very economical to attend. All events require advance registration. Volunteers are also needed! Be sure to visit www.GiveSevenDays.org for more information. #BeTheRipple #GiveSevenDays
Wednesday, April 4th: Kendra Scott Gives Back Party in Honor of SevenDays®. 5-7pm; Kendra Scott Town Center Crossing (4533 W. 119th Street, Leawood, KS). In anticipation of SevenDays 2018, enjoy sips, sweets and jewels at Kendra Scott in Town Center Crossing! 20% of the proceeds from all purchases benefit SevenDays®.
Friday, April 6th: SevenDays® First Fridays Art Show. 5-8pm; BicMedia (2130 Washington St, Kansas City, MO 64108). Join SevenDays® for a fun-filled, art-inspired evening to celebrate kindness, faith and community! For the second year in a row, SevenDays® is hosting an art show in conjunction with the Crossroads First Friday’s extravaganza. There is no cost to you to enjoy live music, 6+ local artists, including our high school Button Art winners, light appetizers and back by popular demand, Donutology Donuts! Registration: http://ow.ly/DQaJ30jgbF9.
Day 1: Love. Tuesday, April 10th: Kickoff Celebration. 6:30-9pm; The Temple Congregation B’nai Jehudah (12320 Nall Ave., Overland Park, KS). Join us as we kick off a week of SevenDays® activities with a celebration of faith! We will announce the winners of the SevenDays® songwriting, essay writing and button design competitions, enjoy a panel discussion, “A Rabbi, An Imam and an Evangelical Minister Walk Into a Bar…,” featuring Pastor Bob Roberts, Senior Pastor of Northwood Church (outside of Dallas, TX), Imam Mohamed Magid of All Dulles Area Muslim Society (ADAMS) in Sterling, VA along with Rabbi Arthur Nemitoff, Senior Rabbi of The Temple, Congregation B’nai Jehudah, and Imam Bilal Mohammed of the Al Inshirah Islamic Center. Their program, called “My Neighbor’s Keeper” is spearheaded by Pastor Roberts, Imam Mohammed Magid, and Rabbi (Ambassador) David Saperstein. They have brought rabbis, imams, and evangelical ministers together in Abu Dhabi, Morocco, and – most recently – Washington, DC, to build bridges and establish triad partnerships to increase love and support for all faiths, working to dispel myths and misconceptions, and developing strong relationships to fight hatred whenever and wherever it arises. Registration: http://ow.ly/oEJr30jgbMd.
Day 2: Discover. Wednesday, April 11th: Discover Diversity Dinner. 5:30-8pm; St. James United Methodist Church (5540 Wayne Avenue, Kansas City, MO). SevenDays® is hosting a community dinner! Discover differences and commonalities with our neighbors through engaging and fun family table activities. Garmin is sponsoring the event and Central Exchange Catering is providing our pasta bar. Vegetarian options, too! Registration: http://ow.ly/zCuh30jgbPC.
Day 3: Others. Thursday, April 12th: Valarie Kaur – Revolutionary Love: In Community with Others. 6-9pm; Church of the Resurrection, Sanctuary (5009 W. 137th Street, Leawood, KS). Join SevenDays® for an inspiring evening with Valarie Kaur, civil rights activist, lawyer, award-winning filmmaker, educator, author, Sikh American voice and founder of the Revolutionary Love Project. You’ll be touched by her own story of losing her uncle in the aftermath of 9/11 and how she has dedicated her life to faith, social change, and community. Registration: http://ow.ly/KiT530jgcFA.
Day 4: Connect. Friday, April 13th: Shabbat Connect Luncheon. 11am-1pm; Congregation Beth Torah (6100 W. 127th Street, Overland Park, KS). SevenDays® is commemorating the fourth anniversary of the murders which took place at the Jewish Community Campus and Village Shalom in 2014 and welcoming Shabbat with a Shabbat Connect Luncheon. We will honor the lives of William L. Corporon, MD, Reat Griffin Underwood and Teresa LaManno. We will also honor those lost during the Holocaust in coordination with Yom Hashoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day. Our luncheon features Yvette Manessis Corporon, cousin to Bill Corporon and Reat Underwood, author of Something Beautiful Happened – a true story of bravery, courage and love during the Holocaust on a Greek island. Lunch is Halal and Kosher. Registration: http://ow.ly/T4zb30jgcLW.
Day 5: You. Saturday, April 14th:
- Lunch ‘n’ Punch. 10am-1pm; Notre Dame de Sion High School Gym (10631 Wornall Road, Kansas City, MO). Join SevenDays® for the Ali Kemp Educational Foundation’s Critically Acclaimed Self Defense Program, T.A.K.E. Defense Workshop. Bring your mother, daughter, sister and friends! Don’t miss this opportunity to learn skills every woman should know. Girls and women are welcome ages 12 years and older (our oldest participant has been 90!). Registration: http://ow.ly/tOpl30jgcOg
- SevenDays® Taking Care of You: Mind, Body and Soul Workshops for a Better You. 12:45-4pm; two locations: Southland: Hillcrest Christian Church (11411 Quivira Road, Overland Park, KS) and Northland: North Oak Christian Church (9900 North Oak Trafficway, Kansas City, MO). This day is all about YOU! You are invited to care for and LOVE yourself in mind, body, and soul. You’ll come to understand that by attending to your own needs, you will be better equipped to also care for the broader community. Join us for this free event which is open to the entire community. Attendees will experience three sessions on topics of their choosing such as yoga, art therapy, improv therapy, suicide prevention, pet therapy, journaling, music therapy and/or prayer and meditation. Registration: http://ow.ly/kvFn30jgcVP.
Day 6: Go. Sunday, April 15th: Interfaith Dinner and Workshop for Youth and Adults. 5:30-8pm; Cleveland University (10850 Lowell Avenue, Overland Park, KS). Let’s chat about Interfaith: What is it? Why is it important? How does it benefit our community? Our interfaith workshop is prepared to engage these questions in order to support the expansion of pluralism and interfaith leadership across Kansas City. Facilitators from Interfaith Youth Core Alumni Network and community leaders Mahnaz Shabbir and Bill Tammeus will lead these workshops. We will learn and develop skills on how to navigate conversation around religious and nonreligious identity, find shared values in our core belief systems and work for a common good.Two concurrent sessions will be offered, one for students aged 14-20 and one for adults aged 21+.Our community partner, The Dialogue Institute, will provide dinner that will come from Turkish cuisine. Halal and Vegetarian options available. Registration: http://ow.ly/Vztw30jgd4y.
Day 7: Onward. Monday, April 16th: Faith, Love and Walk. 4:30-9pm; National World War I Museum and Memorial (2 Memorial Drive, Kansas City, MO). Let’s walk together as a society, embrace our diversity and unite as a community. Join us as we stand against hate. We must gather as ripples of Faith, Love & Kindness and move ONWARD as an unstoppable wave of change. Following the walk, participants are invited to stay to visit with one another. Food truck vendors will be on site and participants may purchase dinner and drinks. Registration: http://ow.ly/wJ5k30jgd90 (Cost: $10 per walker, includes access to walk and event t-shirt.).
All Week: Community Blood Center Blood Drives. We are grateful to the Community Blood Center for their efforts to enhance our world with kindness through CONNECTION. During his life, Reat Underwood had requested to be an organ and tissue donor. This request was honored at his death. Organ, tissue and blood donation are all human ways to CONNECT. In honor of ALL organ and tissue donors, we request you take time to give blood the week of SevenDays®. Click here to find the locations open during this week and please mention SevenDays® as your reason for donating.