Don’t gripe, get involved
Twenty-five years ago my mother ran for selectman. She had decided to become involved in making a difference in her town; distributing money, applying for grants, passing laws, and helping its citizens have their thoughts and concerns heard. I listen to townspeople voice their opinion after a town meeting (that they did not attend) and it convinces me that most of the population feels the board members go to meetings and sit around socializing, having tea and cookies, and the result couldn’t be further from this misconception.
My suggestion to you in this piece is to make time to run for a position on your town’s board of selectmen and serve a year term to learn the ins and outs of town politics and to help make a difference. Attend your town’s meetings on a regular basis, not just when something is bothering you, stay involved not just showing up to vote.
It may not be as easy as one may think: people come to your workplace, stop you in the store, or call you during supper. Sometimes they’re rude and uncooperative and it’s your job to listen and assess the situation and bring their concerns to the next meeting. You may have to put meetings before your family … sometimes missing (school) functions because your loyalty is to the people every other week. During budget meetings you may be there late, then have to be up early to work. When people make nasty comments, it may bring on hurt feelings and make you reassess what you are trying to accomplish; you’ll question your efforts. Put all feelings aside and do your job to the best of your ability. No one is perfect, people make mistakes, and everyone’s opinion on how to approach a matter varies widely. That’s why there is a five person board to dissect each avenue and discover which one best suits the town as a whole. There are pros and cons with any job, but the feeling of accomplishment when you’re done will be rewarding.
Each year less people are showing interest in this job. Now couldn’t be a better time to help serve your community and become involved. My mother has kept her position for the last two terms due to other’s disinterest. Remember, whichever position someone decides to take on; volunteer fireman, selectman, coach, school board member, ATV Club, snowsled club, it involves hours of meetings, unpaid time for research and, most of all, dedication to make a difference. Everyone is fighting for what they believe in. Take time to taste your words before you spit them out, process the information, and make your best decision. We are all in this together. Strength comes in numbers but an organization is only as strong as its weakest link.
This letter is dedicated to all who serve in their communities — whichever position they might hold — and to my mother, Lana Tucker — you are appreciated