Jo-Ann Draper asked for the Pima Town Council to consider being more kind and has found herself in charge of a brand new committee to bring the community together through events, cleanups, and gardening.
Draper, a nurse practitioner and grandmother, appeared before the February town council meeting with a simple request: Read a book and try to make the community a kinder place. She presented the book, The Rabbit Effect, to the council and urged them to read it.
The book by Kelli Harding describes the physical effects of fellowship and kindness, Draper said. Scientists discovered rabbits they had been experimenting on lived better lives, rebounded from infections and were healthier when they were being taken care of by a scientist who was affectionate to them.
“It’s all scientifically-based and amazing. Humans being around other people is super important,” Draper said. “I feel the Gila Valley is a wonderful place to live. In Pima, we live close to each other, but we don’t know each other well. We’re so secluded. We shouldn’t be that way.”
Draper told the council she would like to see Pima residents gather together and look out for each other. Eventually, she would like to see if Pima could be part of Reader’s Digest’s Nicest Places series in America because it highlights communities that are clean, kind and have celebrations.
After listening to Draper’s remarks, the Pima Town Council decided to get to work. That night, the council asked Draper head a new committee to unify the community.
“I think it will bring our town closer together and people will have more pride in our town,” said Pima Mayor C.B. Fletcher.
Although the town already holds community events around the holidays, Fletcher said he hoped residents’ interaction with each other would increase beyond them. He would like more people to come to schools’ games as well as become more involved with local government.
Draper is in the process of forming the committee and she’ll be making another presentation to the council next month. She’s calling people and asking them to be on the committee. It doesn’t matter if they are from Pima or not, she said. She is looking for active, energetic people who want to work together.
Once established, the committee will oversee events, work with the town on community cleanups and potentially create a community garden. The committee could also help the community get through disasters or sicknesses through fundraising, she said.
“I think it’s time to get out and start being friendly,” Draper said. “It will be fun to see what we can do to make the Gila Valley more inclusive and loving.”
Eventually, Draper said she would like to see each town within Graham County form its own Community Kindness Committee.