Coming off of one of the most difficult years in program history, Kendall Whittier Main Street took 2021 as an opportunity for growth and reflection and is ready to take the organization to the next level in 2022.
“2020 was all about just getting through as best as possible. As the year came to a close and began to transition into 2021, we really took that time to take a look at the program and where we wanted to go from here,” said Jessica Jackson Seay, executive director of Kendall Whittier Main Street (KWMS). “We sought community input, brought in main street staff from state and local chapters and began planning the next steps for KWMS.”
KWMS invited Oklahoma Main Street Center staff to Kendall Whittier to host a Board Retreat in August, where the Board members discussed organizational strengths and weaknesses as well as district opportunities.
Following the Retreat, Oklahoma Main Street director Buffy Hughes returned to Kendall Whittier with Norma Miess from Main Street America, where they hosted stakeholder meetings, more Board dialogue and resident and community forums.
“Together, KWMS staff, Buffy and Norma visited about a one-third of Kendall Whittier businesses as well, talking directly with business owners,” Jackson Seay said. “We had great turnout at the community forums and really got a good perspective from residents.”
KWMS is finalizing its planning in the first quarter of 2022 and is currently looking for new volunteers with fresh ideas to join the team and help move Kendall Whittier forward. Those interested in getting involved in Kendall Whittier Main Street can call or text 918-633-1934 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kendall Whittier Main Street is a nonprofit organization that inspires the ongoing revitalization and growth of a historic and cultural neighborhood in Tulsa, striving to transform it back to a thriving, walkable commercial district. KWMS is a 2020 Great American Main Street Award winner and an Oklahoma Certified Cultural District.
A Look Back – 2021
The year started with the completion of the new sidewalk lights along Admiral Boulevard and on Lewis Avenue. About 40 lights were installed, brightening the Whittier Square area at night and providing safer travel for all.
In the first quarter of 2021, KWMS welcomed a new team member, Community Engagement Coordinator Sydney Alison, as well as a part-time groundskeeper who keeps Kendall Whittier clean and tidy. Expanding the staff has allowed Kendall Whittier Main Street to provide additional events and services.
In 2021, Kendall Whittier Main Street hosted three COVID-19 vaccine clinics with bilingual support. In all, more than 400 people in the community became fully vaccinated and/or received their first booster shot for free at the KWMS clinic. It was a partnership with Foster Corner Drug, Growing Together and St. Francis Xavier Church.
Additionally, KWMS developed a Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility Committee to ensure programming, business recruitment and services remained reflective of the community and inclusive of all.
In August, the organization hosted a school supply drive to benefit San Miguel Middle School in Kendall Whittier, where the majority of students come from lower income families. Eleven business participated by collecting supplies, and in the end, thousands of items were donated, including 2,243 pencils, 1,310 disinfecting wipes, 150 notebooks, 86 books and 75 backpacks, which was also enough for every student to get a new backpack.
In September, KWMS and Kendall Whittier businesses received five statewide awards, including Outstanding Image Promotion for its updated website and Best Fundraising Effort for the 2020 Rent Relief Program. Kendall Whittier was also recognized for Premier Partner in George Kaiser Family Foundation, Best Interior Design Project for American Solera and Best Adaptive Reuse for Four. Seven. Three. Trent Morrow was recognized as KWMS Board Member of the Year at the awards ceremony as well.
Events were a huge draw in 2021 as well. In October, KWMS hosted its biggest event to date with the annual Kendall Whittier Arts Festival. More than 60 artists attended and more than 2,000 people came out to shop. In all, there were two stages of entertainment, multiple food trucks and breweries and a free Kids’ Zone.
The Kendall Whittier After Five outdoor concert series was a smashing success as well. Each event brought out new attendees, and the events had some of the largest turnouts of this multi-year series. The themes were Wheeling to Whittier (bike-themed, May), Bark in the Park (dog-themed, June), Kids Night (July), Comedy Night (August), Salsa Night (September) and University of Tulsa Night (October).
In addition, KWMS added some new events to the lineup, including a Meet the Makers Tour in May in conjunction with Tulsa Tours. Tourists learned about Kendall Whittier history, met with business owners and received “swag” items from each business they visited.
In December, KWMS hosted another brand-new event – Los Festivales y Mercados: Las Posadas. The holiday event featured former Mercado vendors and live musical performances from Tulsa Opera and Tulsa Honor Academy’s Ballet Folklorico dancers, plus free snacks and hot beverages from Kendall Whittier businesses.