Friday, September 26, 2008

CCO and the Tom & Pat Sweeny Family

Last night, I attended a fundraiser for the CCO at the breathtaking Scottish Rite Temple on Linwood. The CCO (now "Communities Creating Opportunity", formerly the "Church Community Organization") is an inspiring organization, formed by faith communities in an era of white flight. Since that time, it has become the go-to community organization in Kansas City for grass-roots involvement. Chances are, you've never heard of them, but chances are even better that, if you live in Kansas City, your life has been improved because of their work.

This year, though, the event had a particularly memorable and touching moment. The plan was to honor longtime civic activist and dedicated attorney Tom Sweeny with the Phyllis Bahner Legacy of Leadership Award - a well-deserved recognition for a man who has been at the heart of Kansas City's most important social issues since the 1960s, when he marched for civil rights, through this decade, when he addressed voter suppression. I, like many in the crowd, was looking forward to applauding this lion of a man.

But Tom Sweeny was unable to attend. He's battling with the aftermath of a 2007 stroke, and simply could not make it to the event.

What happened, though, was hauntingly inspiring. When it came time to give the award, they asked one of his sons to accept it. Symbolically, the award could not have been handed to Tom Sweeny any better had he himself been able to tap dance up to the podium and accept it. Tom Sweeny, for all the good he has accomplished in his life, is most proud of his next generation, and many of his 9 children were there for the celebration. They include some of Kansas City's most dedicated and determined volunteers - and they will continue to impact our community for decades. If you've ever gotten involved with a project that has lofty goals and solid practicality, you've probably worked with a Sweeny.

The Sweeny clan's patriarch was at home resting last night, but his involvement was very much present, multiplied by the children he raised and the lives he's touched.

Well done, Mr. Sweeny. Kansas City took a moment to applaud you last night, though the good you've accomplished is just beginning.

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Blogger Jim said...

Well said Dan.

9/26/2008 7:09 AM  

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