Ways to improve

Published 9:07 am Friday, June 12, 2009

Editor’s note: Benjamin T. Devore was selected to receive The Donna C. McCullough Chamber Scholarship. Applicants were asked to respond to the question: “What issue poses the greatest challenge for improving the quality of life in the Franklin-Southampton Community, and how would you propose to tackle and resolve this issue/problem?” Below is Devore’s essay.

It is hard to narrow down the challenges faced by Franklin and Southampton County into one singular issue. There are problems that range from our educational facilities to recreational equipment.

I feel as though an issue that has a kind of ripple effect on everything in our community and our area, though, is apathy of our citizens for making our city and county better places.

Throughout my time in Franklin, I have been involved in numerous community functions, such as volunteering for programs at the public library, events in Downtown Franklin and various projects with the Hunterdale Ruritan Club.

It does not take much to notice the lack of involvement in such activities from our area’s residents. The problem can be looked at from both sides in that there is always room for more volunteers for these projects, and that there is a reoccurring trend of low attendance levels.

The Ruth Camp Campbell Memorial Library hosts an array of educational programs for children. The Downtown Franklin Association supplies the community with many family-friendly events, and clubs such as the Ruritans are continuously working to better the environmental and social health of Franklin and Southampton County. So why are our citizens not taking part in these terrific opportunities?

Aside from overall community involvement, there is a noticeable lack of interest in our high school’s extracurricular activities. I have been an athlete at Franklin High School since the eighth grade, and it does not take long to realize the nearly empty bleachers at sporting events other than football and basketball. Franklin has attempted to incorporate programs to further involve parents with their children’s schooling, but each time it has turned out to be a failure.

Is it possible that our schools could be state champions in other sports or tops in academics if every event had the same support as our football team?

This is not exactly the easiest issue to confront, but I do believe there are some things that can be done to better the situation.

Franklin High School has a DECA chapter, a club which focuses on community service. The club makes being involved in the community another fun activity for teens to participate in. I would like to see more clubs with DECA’s priorities set up in our schools and independently in the community.

The Ruritan Club targets mainly older gentlemen and other clubs, such as the Junior Woman’s Club, also target specific membership. I propose that we create clubs that allow teens, adults and families as a whole the opportunity to work on projects such as Adopt a Highway and Relay For Life. Attendance would still be an issue, so school clubs could offer extra credit or credit to be used for things such as senior project community service hours, while the independent clubs could offer incentives such as a club dinner once a month, where all members come together to interact with other residents of Franklin and Southampton county and plan future club projects.

As far as school support goes, our athletics departments could offer ticket discounts for parents of athletes, faculty members and school board representatives.

I feel that if a little more effort were put into making our community a better place by all of our citizens, the quality of our area would skyrocket.

Each person can make a difference by doing something as simple as picking up trash along the road or cheering on their child’s team.

It is not too much to ask that we get our families more involved with our community, since we are the ones who have to live with our decisions.

With a small contribution from each person, Franklin and Southampton County can easily be improved.