Since we are creeping closer and closer to fall I felt compelled today to post a “re-run” from the past that addresses a problem we face every year. Fall is traditionally the time for school carnivals, homecomings, anniversaries, fund raisers, reunions, and fairs. Many of those events require planning that starts now or in the coming weeks. I know that people are working to plan Caddo’s annual Heritage Day. And I also know that a popular event in a nearby county has already been cancelled due to “lack of support”. So I ask you today to read my little rant and consider helping your local community.
My little community is suffering from a common ailment. It probably affects your community as well. In fact, I would venture to say that it is quickly becoming an epidemic and can be found in every small town in our county. It’s called STP, better known as “same ten people”. Need some work done? Want to change an ordinance? Want to beautify a park? Want to add a wing to the library? Chances are you’ll deal with the same core group of volunteers and community development people who have been active in your town for the past ten or even twenty years. New people come and go, but every small community has a few familiar faces that are at every committee meeting, board meeting, planning meeting, and council meeting. Why? Because they care.
I can hear you saying, “those with the money run the town”, but that hasn’t been my experience. Sure, the guys with the big bucks make the news from time to time. But many more make donations quietly, behind the scenes, and aren’t active in the implementation of projects. Most of the people who volunteer for community service year after year don’t have a lot of money. Many of them don’t even have more time than other people. They have jobs and families and other commitments. However, they understand that only by working together can we have a say in what happens to us, and to our children and grandchildren. Change is going to happen, and that has never been more evident than in Bryan County right now. However, changes are not always good. And changes aren’t always made when and where we want them. Instead of sitting around complaining about what “those people” are doing, why don’t you change yourself and start working for what you want or don’t want in your community?
If you don’t want a methamphetamine lab next to your child’s preschool, then start attending city council meetings and voice your concerns. If you want a clean, safe park for your children or grandchildren to play in then join a committee to make it happen. If you don’t want your senior citizens to go hungry then volunteer to help at your local nutrition center or church pantry. If you want an after-school program at your school, attend your school board meetings. Even if you don’t get everything you want, you will have a clearer understanding of how your community operates and what changes are ahead.
Every small town in Bryan County has some over-worked, unpaid group of citizens who are striving to make your community better. Your time, ideas, hands, and heart are needed by schools, churches, civic clubs, and community development groups all over the county. Why are you sitting in your living room watching “reality shows”?
Why should you sit back and reap the benefits without helping them with the work?
Don’t know what to do or where to go? Check your newspaper, community bulletin board, or city hall. Better yet, ask one of those STP about their organization. Trust me, someone will be very happy to see you at their next meeting!