Chris Griffith: Creating and sustaining sense of community not an easy task

CHRIS GRIFFITH

Our busy tourist season is wrapping up and it’s ushered out the way it came in, with outdoor events and festivals. A little unknown fact about our local events is that there are visitors who plan their trips to and from our area around some of our local events. While our events schedule may not be the initial draw for a visit to Southwest Florida, they are a reason to plan an “arrive by” or “depart after” date for many people.

Recently, I had the opportunity to eavesdrop on a conversation a couple of people were having about a local event they attended. There was a grumble about how much a sandwich cost and a few other nit-pickery complaints.

While I realize complaining is nearly a national pastime, it saddened me that the people having the conversation didn’t get it. We aren’t a metropolis and most of our public events aren’t thrown by cities without budgets. There also aren’t “party planning squads” at the county or city level of government.

Many of our local events are organized by volunteers and service organizations. While there is generally a charitable aspect to the event, there is always the fundamental goal of providing a good time and a sense of community and fellowship for both locals and visitors.

If you pay closer attention at the next event you attend you may notice it. Very often, it’s your community that is actually hosting it, not your city. It’s your neighbor, your doctor, your insurance agent, your accountant and many other small businesses and their owners. They give their time and, most importantly, their money and services to sponsor the events to underwrite expenses.

It’s usually a win-win because it provides a reason for people to come together and an avenue to raise funds and awareness for local charitable organizations or causes.

If you’re one of the lucky people that get to stay here all summer you may realize that there are other benefits besides getting into a restaurant without a reservation and cutting across town in half the time. You have the opportunity to get involved, at any level, to help create or sustain the local community for the winter and spring of next year.

This summer will go by quietly with many local residents and champions of charity quietly planning the next year’s 5K events, food festivals, boat parades, farmer’s markets, movies in the parks, and so on. When our weather is tolerable again we’ll have many ways to welcome back our tourists, celebrate whatever needs celebrated and build our sense of community. Remarkably, it will all be created by the hands of unbelievably average, yet extraordinary people that realize that they get what they give.

So maybe the next time you’re at an event and the feeling comes over you that it could have been run better, bigger, cheaper or done more often, know this: you can help with the solution by getting involved or by becoming a sponsor of the event.

Your blood, sweat, tears, time or checkbook is welcome at any service organization or their events. You just have to step up and give of yourself what you can.

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Chris Griffith is a real estate agent at Downing-Frye Realty Inc. in Bonita Springs. If you have a question about local real estate or Bonita Springs, e-mail her at chris@LifeInBonitaSprings.com.

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