Today, following weeks of preparation, members of Andover Historical Society pulled off the annual Old Time Fair on the grounds of the defunct Potter Place Railroad Station which it manages as a museum. A flea market, an auction and the sale of food and drink raise money to offset the association's expenses, but this truly community service: volunteers dedicating time and effort for one reason. It is a subtle, yet rich reward: the knowledge that they have made the community an even better place.
One townsperson has transformed the 200-year-old cellar hole of ventriloquist Richard Potter into a fanciful shade garden. Why did Ken Reid invest all of that time and effort? A sign dedicates his work as a tribute to the Potters, but he has made the community a better place, and that's quite a reward.
This spring, thirteen Proctor students orchestrated a series of fundraisers--cupcake sales, etc.--to offset the costs for a trip this summer to Guatemala City. On June 17 they departed for two weeks of community-based service work in the slums of Guatemala and at an orphanage for more than 60 boys who have been abandoned or abused by their families.
At Proctor, we talk a lot about community service, and we are formalizing service options and systems this year to encourage ever-greater student involvement. Sometimes, it seems, we fall into the trap of assuming that the adult population wants students to appreciate the joy of giving back, and that young people are somehow resistant. Then, something like this proves the fallacies of generalizations.
Below, we're rolling a stump.
The group maintained an informative blog. Plans are in the works for two service trips next summer! The group enjoyed a visit to a lava cave.
A few days ago, we received an email from Proctor junior Harrison Newman. It seems that back in the sixth grade he became passionate about the water crisis in Africa. He writes, "I couldn't believe that women had to walk 8 miles each day to get clean, drinkable, water. I learned that 25,000 children die every day from water-bourne illnesses. I thought, how lucky are we! The following year I began to raise money to build a well. It took three years, and this past spring, the well was built on the school grounds. Everything has changed for these 200 students.... All the people in the village are welcome to walk up the hill and fill their buckets with water." Harrison has just returned from almost a month in a remote Tanzanian village at the Ngetaeu Secondary School. Clean, potable water is flowing!
Harrison goes on, "I assisted with a chemistry class, painted some classrooms, and PLAYED SOCCER with the kids everyday. It couldn't have happened without the generosity of PROCTOR. Our school donated an enormous amount of equipment--thanks to Gregor and Jake. You should have seen the faces when the balls, nets, and Proctor jerseys came out. It was amazing. Pretty soon, the whole village knew about it. Clearly, sports bring people together. I had a great time "coaching" them and will never forget their gratitude."
We can, should, and will do more to promote community service. But, as program coordinator Adam Jones notes, we've done a lot, and we're doing a lot! With opportunities and time, and we'll give back.
Potter Place Railroad Station, part of Andover Historical Society's museum properties and center of today's Old Time Fair.
A family enjoys a hand-car ride on a stretch of rail that was spared when the railroad was torn up for the highly successful Rail-Trail initiative, (which is another example of community activism at its best!)
Local farmers bring immaculate tractors to the Fair for a parade, and for (face painted) Jordan Kenney's great pleasure!
A local band--anchored by Lindsay Schust and her family--entertain before the auction.
Students build walls in the slums of Guatemala City.
Alice helps kids cutting out peace symbols.
Kids wearing Proctor soccer shirts practice kicking balls brought by Harrison to a remote village in Tanzania.