Op-Ed: The power of positive community action

August 31, 2018

By: Jacquelyn D. Heath
Special to the Milwaukee Times

Community organizer Shirley Sharp hands out bags of
books and school supplies at the Milwaukee Times table
to attendees of the Northwest Funeral Home Back-to-School Book Bag Give-a-Way on Saturday, August 25, 2018.

As summer winds down in Milwaukee, attention turns from enjoying all that comes with this famously fabulous (albeit short) season to preparing for change, new beginnings, and fresh starts. A major change looming before many households in some way these days is the start of a new school year.

Many local businesses have viewed back-to-school season as an opportunity to reach out to the community which helps them prosper and give back in a simple but significant way. They invite the community into their establishment for a back-to-school open house and school supply give-away.

I have been pleased to attend and cover many of these events over the years. The most recent one was this past Saturday in my own neighborhood. The sponsor, Northwest Funeral Chapel and Northwest Community Family Center, were joined by several other participating vendors (including The Milwaukee Times Weekly Newspaper), to hand out free book bags filled with assorted school supplies. Attendees were also treated to wellness checks, lifestyle information, and food, food, and more food.

As the hundreds of people meandered around the mini-parklike grounds of the Community Center on West Good Hope Road, it was gratifying to see that among the attendees were many fathers accompanying their children to the event. The children all seemed excited and expectant about the approaching school year, despite it marking the end of summer vacation. I guess there’s just something about brand-new pencils, pens, notebooks and your own new backpack that resonates with a young person.

What resonated with me throughout the day was seeing the power of positive community action coming to life. It was as if everyone there was re-committing themselves to work for positive outcomes, one person at a time.

Regardless of age, race or position, we each have the opportunity to participate in the power of positive community action every day. As Northwest Community Center proprietors Victoria and J.C. Frazier put it, being in business “is not always about making money. It’s important to give back to the community in ways that will make a difference.”

You’re never too young or too old to participate in the power of positive community action. As a young person, your most dramatic contribution can be simply to put forth your best effort in school, study hard, learn well, make the most of your educational opportunities, and prepare yourself for a fruitful future. As an older person, your actions speak volumes. By providing strong, nurturing examples and encouraging words for our young people (blood relationship and/or parental status is optional), you can ensure that the excellence you embody will live on in the next generations.

With the approaching new season and school year, let’s each pledge to join forces to reap the benefits of positive community action. The good thing about that is there’s only one outcome if we make the commitment. It’s a win-win proposition for everyone.

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