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Cape women start a new group, Voices, to find ways to enhance the community

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CAPE VINCENT — To amplify the voices of women who wish to bring about a positive change in Cape Vincent, four elected officials are reaching out to a cross-section of community members to bring some fresh ideas to the table.

Town Councilwoman Michelle T. Oswald said Voices is not a formal group, but a series of gatherings for women “whose voices are not often heard” because they do not have the time to attend public meetings or somehow feel as if their opinions are not valued.

“We were trying to have a conversation with women who don’t show up to meetings and asked them what they wanted to see in Cape Vincent,” she said.

She and three other women — village Trustees Elisabeth P. Brennan and Pamela Youngs and town Justice Colleen M. Knuth — have been facilitating the brainstorming sessions.

Until now, the meetings have been invitation-only because the facilitators want to hear from women who normally do not show up at political functions or public meetings, or already are heavily involved in community development.

“We made no suggestions at all. We asked these women, ‘What are your hopes and dreams for Cape Vincent?’ And they started sharing their ideas on how to enhance the community and their families’ lives,” Ms. Knuth said, adding that women who wish to participate in the Voices projects are encouraged to approach any of the four facilitators.

Through these meetings, the women were able to identify a few key missions they’d like to tackle, including adding scenic murals to a couple of downtown buildings and working with the local youth commission to offer more programs to keep young people active.

Some of their other proposals would require financial assistance from the local governments and the community, such as installing a welcoming archway in the village of Cape Vincent.

Ms. Knuth said Voices also hopes to help organize more winter events to keep the community more active and attract more visitors to Cape Vincent in the off season.

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