Broadcaster Leo Laporte calls community the fundamental part of our life on the planet.
Building our communities, as most know, takes a constant effort. That’s why those who get it always inspire me. Many organizations ride into town with lots of energy and hype but later they’re gone and sometimes with our money. When communities can come together and sustain a shared vision, they can build good communities themselves.
“If we’re looking for advice on how to turn communities into dollars, then we’re in for a rude awakening,” someone once said. As with so many things, if it isn’t a locally shared vision, it usually doesn’t last. Across the nation, we see crumbling buildings and shuttered storefronts because it was someone else’s vision and not the vision of the people who lived there.
Recently, I’ve been fortunate to attend events and causes that are still around and expanding, because they share a vision with the community. Though like many, I’m always pressed for time and money, I nearly always walk away feeling inspired by the abundance of giving from volunteers, sponsors and individual citizens.
Events are very important, because they can motivate a community, wrote author Jono Bacon. Furthermore, events can produce a range of benefits for the community: build family, break the routine, focus the mind, identify leaders and take the pulse of the organization by getting insight into what’s going on in the community, Bacon believes. In addition, they help to keep the community productive, keep excitement, stay focused and energized.
A few of the community events that I’ve attended this summer include:
The 22nd Annual Tomato Festival: The Fairfield Main Street Association brings together many volunteers and community partners to make this a fun-for-all family affair with fresh foods, merchandise and music.
Ninth Annual Prime Rib in the Park: This event, sponsored by the local Lion’s Club, provides funding for Fun on the Run, an after-school recreational activities program for children and youth.
Fourth Anniversary of The Leaven: This community organization celebrated its anniversary at the Mike Day Memorial Park in Suisun City, and what a celebration it was with dignitaries, awards, games, music and tasty Texas Roadhouse barbecue.
Travis Fisher House: Along with Travis Air Force Base community honorary commanders from Solano and Napa counties, I visited the Travis Fisher House for the first time. This wonderful facility provides a home away from home for families in times of a medical crisis. Again, it’s another example of community partners and others working together for the good of our military families.
The 25th Anniversary of the Cordelia Rotary Club: The club recently celebrated its 25th anniversary at the Green Valley Country Club, the same location where it received its charter on Aug. 19, 1988. Janet Murray and I were the only women charter members at that time. Now, many women serve at all levels, from presidents to district governors doing outstanding club humanitarian work at home and around the world.
When I hear complaints (not immune to such complaints myself) about the cost to attend events or donations requested these days, I have to stop and think – everything costs more these days. I can’t think of a single thing that doesn’t cost more.
“Charity begins at home,” my mother always told us. So for the past several years, I’ve tried to concentrate on giving locally, not sending donations out of town with the exception of a few. For a long time, I’ve helped, on a monthly basis, a family in need, and there’s no end in sight. There are so many needs right here in Fairfield and Solano County that demand our attention.
If all else fails toward your inclination to give at home or away, remember what comedian Erma Bombeck once said: “Guilt is the gift that keeps on giving.” Her words, sometimes, certainly push me in the right direction.
“Some people give time, some money, some their skills and connections, some literally give their life’s blood . . . but everyone has something to give,” former first lady Barbara Bush once said. I couldn’t agree more.
Mayrene Bates is a trustee on the Solano County Board of Education.