When the KVIS first began we knew that our 1.44 square miles of village had many fine small town qualities like quaint homes, a main business district, a village hall, churches, a park and library, police and fire stations, sidewalks with street lamps. But with all of these benefits there was still a strong yearning for a kind of hometown experience where everyone knows or feels connected in some way to each other. We articulated this small town feeling as a 'Mayberry' way of being. The fictional Mayberry of the Andy Griffiths show seems in many ways to be an indealized form of healthy community living where compassionate acceptance of one another is mingled with a strong desire for everyone to live well and happily. We asked ourselves then and had extended discussion about how we could realize the steps it would take to articulate that kind of Mayberry vision as the modern society we are today. We hypothesized that perhaps the missing Mayberry ingredient was an active and positive sense of community intentionally focused on a singular common goal. For us that common goal encompasses all parts of village life –the goal of community improvement. By establishing the KVIS and the common goal of Village improvement, a sense of focused purpose was formed in Kenmore; the ability to contribute to this goal is accessible to all regardless of race, age, background, sexual preference, or socio-economic status. This common goal puts us all on the same page and unites us in a desire to help make our community an excellent place to live, enjoy, and do business.
Each person’s definition of what improvement is may differ, but there are some fence post issues most in our community will agree upon from the start as being a part of a successful Kenmore: good schools, well maintained properties and corresponding property values, interesting and profitable businesses, superior services, neighborliness, safety for ourselves and our property. These desires are the building blocks of a successful society, our reason for being an incorporated Village in the first place, and they are how we ultimately define our common improvement goal together. Our continually growing observation and understanding of our strengths and weaknesses as a community has directed our purpose and supported our mission as we strive to help improve Kenmore and work with care to make our community the best place it can be for ourselves now and for those to come.
"I think that Kenmore is an interesting and special place. I remember years ago riding in the car with my father on Delaware Road one Sunday morning. The sun was flitting through the high arching trees casting shadows on the tidy houses passing by. It was this time of year, a Spring morning with the scent of lilac and wisteria on the air. My father commented on how lovely it all was and we were quiet together. This is Kenmore—a place that fosters a sense of connection, where one can feel the light embrace of true community; a place that, like you, I care for deeply.
In July of 2006 I was reading a Yankee Magazine my mother had given to me when I came across an article about a long-standing New England Improvement Society; this started me thinking about Kenmore and what could be done to improve our Village. For some time I thought about, researched, worked and reworked plans for an Improvement Society, all the while becoming more and more convinced that over the course of a decade, the Kenmore Village Improvement Society could be a very positive presence for our community.
I decided to proceed with the idea and prepared informational literature for the Village Board. Our Mayor and Trustees, Clerk, Police Chief, and Department Heads received the plan. I then created flyers for this meeting and began distributing them door-to door and publicly. I visited almost all Delaware and Elmwood businesses and spoke with the owners about KVIS and their concerns for the Village.
Though I took the initial steps necessary to start the KVIS, it is not mine; it belongs to the residents and friends of Kenmore, to each society member, to you. Every opportunity is open and available to you according to your time, talent and interests, abilities and experience."
- Melissa Foster KVIS President and Founder Part of the First KVIS Meeting Address, May 2008
KVIS Statement on Political Activity The KVIS is not a political group: we neither endorse or support candidates for any office. We strive to work with elected officials, regardless of their political affiliation, to improve the Village of Kenmore in thoughtful and effective ways. This was one of the first decisions we made as an organization and is a very necessary way of being for any community group.
There are Improvement Society's across the nation, some are now over 100 years old; maybe KVIS will still be a pertinent part of people's lives here that many years from now, maybe not. What is certain is that in that time span, the political party of those elected to government will likely change and when/if it does, the KVIS must be in a position to work with the then elected officials. Can you imagine if we were political as an organization? If we sided with one party and then there was a change, we would be hard-pressed to work with the party we had not been supporting. So a policy of political neutrality is vital to our ability to work with our elected officials now and in the future.