Letter: Civic clubs fading away

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Dear Editor:

Are you 50 years old or younger? Are you a member of a community civic club? If you answered yes to both questions, give yourself a pat on the back. If you answered that you are younger than 50 and not a member of a community civic club, this letter is for you.

Recent statistics show that community civic clubs like Ruritan and Lions clubs are slowing fading away. The elderly men and women, who back in the day started the clubs and showed such pride in being volunteers are unable to be active. Clubs are now trying to fill their shoes with new members, with no luck.

What is the reason that younger adults do not want to join clubs or volunteer? The number one reason I hear is “I don’t have time!” They are busy with their children’s soccer games, baseball games and scouts (or whatever). They already give their free time to their church. They spend to much time at the office because they have a very demanding job. They want to spend quality time with their family.

Surely, most people can spend a few hours a month volunteering. But the desire to find that time can be difficult. The desire to help other people and to make your community a better place has to be strong.

But you might ask, “What is in it for me?” The easiest way to explain it is that feeling that you get when you actually “get your hands dirty” to help clean a flooded house, rather than just writing a check. You don’t receive any payment for what you do, but you feel better about yourself knowing that you are making a difference in someone’s life. Maybe it’s how you feel after delivering gifts from Penny Pitch knowing that this family will have a nice Christmas this year. You may not even get a pat on the back, but you smile as you drive the highways and notice that because you participate in WV Adopt a Highway program all the trash is gone. Maybe you recognize a student’s name in the newspaper who graduated from college and know that your efforts helped pay for a scholarship. You get to spend time with your fellow members working together and raising money for a certain project. You could even include your family and spend the quality time together helping others.

As we celebrate the founding of Ruritan in 1928 during the week of May 21, this is a request for you to strongly consider joining a club. In Greenbrier County there are eight clubs: Clintonville, Muddy Creek Mountain, Richlands, Frankford, Williamsburg, Maxwelton, Renick and Smoot. There is a club close to where you live or work.  Each club participates in different projects and you may know a great project that we haven’t considered.

Most of these clubs have been serving our area for over 60 years and we hope to continue this long-standing tradition for many years to come. We need you. Please don’t let us fade away. Talk to a Ruritan in your community about becoming a member. For further information, call 304-645-4709. We welcome the opportunity to meet you and tell you more about Ruritan.

Sincerely,

Debbie Bowman
Lower WV Growth and Development Chair