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Gena Bigler: Imagine how communities would thrive if we all followed ‘Team Torp’s’ example


Christian and Tanya Torp (Photo provided)

Christian and Tanya Torp (Photo provided)


 

Lexington’s Team Torp is a force to be reckoned with; Tanya and Christian actively work to improve the world.
 

Owners of Justice House, they host Heinz Breakfast where they open their doors to the public and make enough pancakes to feed a small army. The most recent brought together 45 diverse hungry people. Along with the locally sourced pancakes (Weisenberger Mill), they provide fair trade coffee and offer it up to any who want to come. Homeless mothers are likely to sit next to state senators at these community building breakfasts.
 

The Torps open their home to many community meetings, occasionally even two in one evening. From tiny houses to lawyers groups seeking fair justice systems … if it benefits the local community, you are likely to find it at Justice House.
 

Tanya Torp spends her days (and many early mornings and evenings) serving young mothers. Program director at Step By Step, she helps connect young mothers to resources while supporting them and daring them to dream. Along with recruiting mentors, speakers and volunteers, Tanya makes time to support the young mothers in their times of crisis.
 

Because for Tanya, one full-time job is not enough; she is also the founder of “Be Bold,” a nonprofit that works to empower girls.
 

Both Tanya and Christian are active with Kentuckians for the Commonwealth; Tanya serves on the board. Christian, when he isn’t serving his clients as an attorney and offering educated advice to neighbors, is active with NAACP.
 

Their love of community was shared at the start of their life together. Many couples have large receptions, but few open them up to the whole neighborhood and encourage homeless citizens to eat and be merry with them. The Torps did just that. About a 1,000 neighbors came and celebrated with them. Then, their honeymoon was spent in service to others as they went on a month long mission trip in Uganda.
 

Few embody the spirit of serving and community building like the Torps. They often open their home to alternative spring breakers who dedicate their spring break to service. One of these groups helped them turn their front lawn into an urban garden. They also keep chickens and share their knowledge and bounty with their neighbors.
 

Imagine how our community would thrive if more of us opened up our hearts and homes. What if, instead of denying a special needs child a therapeutic play house because of Neighborhood Association bylaws, we all planted gardens and shared the produce. How would we treat our neighbors if we knew we would see them at breakfast once a month? What would you say to your state representative if you could share a cup of coffee with him or her? How would you feel about the homeless folks if you knew them and heard what they had to say?
 

Building bridges is done person to person. Relationships are the foundation of community. Breaking bread together breaks through the “otherness” that often divides us into us and them. The Torps are doing their part; how can we do ours?
 

Gena Bigler is passionate about public service and credits her time serving nonprofits in AmeriCorps and Volunteers in Service to America (V.I.S.T.A.) with teaching her extreme budgeting and bargain shopping. Gena is now CFO of McNay Settlement Group and serves on the board of the Lactation Improvement Network of Kentucky (L.I.N.K.). Gena would be happy to hear from you at lgbigler@gmail.com.

 

Click here to read more columns from Gena Bigler.


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