Over the weekend, I volunteered to help with the time keeping table at a 5K set up to raise awareness about pedestrian safety and fund raise to put sidewalks in on New Falls Rd. Before the raise started, I noticed a gentleman wearing a shirt that said Levittown Now. I initially though, "Sweet Levittown t-shirt, bro." Then I realized he was interviewing different event organizers and that LevittownNow is a news website specifically for the Levittown Area! I checked it out. I assumed it would be a website that would collect other articles and links, but it is actually full of originally written articles from their own staff. I was quite impressed. I've thought for a long time that good ol' L-town should have something like this that gives you insight into things like community happenings and local politics. I mean, every town should have this, but I always thought Levittownians would benefit particularly, due to the odd configuration of townships and boroughs and school districts and parishes and park systems and civic organizations that tend to overlap and obfuscate the goings on of our little burg. Even if your not from around here, check it out, it's a nifty little website.
This also got me thinking about those same civic organizations in Levittown. The more I'm around this stuff, the more I realize that these organizations are the backbone of the American community. I'm completely using my own experience as the evidence for this, so maybe I'm wrong, but... It seems that every time something is going on to improve the community, or benefit those less fortunate, or increase the amount of local fun to be had, there is always either a club behind it or heavily supporting it. Personally, I belong to the Knights of Columbus and the Ancient Order of Hibernians. The former is a Catholic men's organization, the latter is for Irish-Catholics (both born and descended). Both are international organizations, but made up local chapters that tend to support things locally. These two groups are obviously pretty specific on their membership requirements, but their are plenty more non-sectarian groups that I see helping out: VFW and Legion, Rotary, Eagles, Elks, Lions. I know a lot of people think these are just drinking clubs, or professional networking societies. I'm not saying that doesn't go on. What I am saying is that these social clubs tend to be the "standing committee" for all the things the community relies on. Looking for a donation to pay for something? Send a letter to the Hibos. Need an event staffed for free? See if the Knights are free that weekend. The issue I'm raising is that I don't think that it is in the forefront of people's consciousness that these clubs are an essential part of the sense of community that exists in our area. Again, I'm not speaking for everywhere, maybe the town council or the fire companies or boy scouts provide all of this where you live. (This feels a bit like when I was in college in a Greek letter organization. Everyone enjoys the benefits of having a reserve force of volunteers and a standard bearer for campus social life, but tend to quail when asked to join or get involved.) The problem is that there seems to be less interest in these clubs every year. Not only the interest in joining, but staying involved. People tend to show up to a lot of the events that are sponsored, but aren't willing to become one of those behind the scene supporters that enables these events to happen or to ensure their continuation. So, take some time this summer, while you're at a parish carnival, a walk&run fundraiser, beef&beer, or parade and notice the polo shirts or signs at the event. Take a minute to think about how much your community would be missing out on if it weren't for these organizations and their mission to support those endeavors. Ask yourself if this may be the thing that is missing in places that don't have a sense of community. Ask yourself if those things are worth your time and effort to make sure that they continue to happen.