Communities are like any other organization -- they stop working when their people do.
It's odd that so many people today want to change the world, but never stop and think how they can improve life for those people they know in their own neighborhood.
Psychologists tell us that there are really just a handful of characteristics needed in building better relationships. Most important are:
2.) A common purpose;
3.) A serving heart;
4.) Open communication; and
Oddly enough, these are the same ingredients to build and maintain a strong community.
When is the last time you've asked yourself, "What have I done to help Dorchester? What more can I do tomorrow to improve Dorchester?"
The best part of a small town is that one person really can make a difference.On three different occasions this week, Times staff members heard from out-of-town visitors how much they liked our small town. One visitor from Hastings said, "You really have something special here."
Sometimes, we take for granted the involved, peaceful and safe community we have. After all, life moves a little more slowly in a small town. We assume all the good aspects to Dorchester will always be there -- or they'll eventually return.
But we are seeing small towns around us facing new challenges. Friend recently lost its grocery store, just as Dorchester did six years earlier. Exeter is talking co-oping its successful girls volleyball program with Geneva (Fillmore Central). Wilber lost its famous full-time bakery.
You could blame population loss, but that's not a key reason. While our area hasn't seen a boom in population since the 1920s, we haven't seen large population loss, either. In fact, except for the farm community, population has held steady.
Instead, it's apathy that hurts communities. The smaller they are, the more apathy hurts.
The fact is, our area businesses, organizations and schools (and school activities) suffer when people quit participating; when people quit supporting one another; when people quit caring.Don't we have enough of that in the cities? The worst part is the example being taught to the next generation.
We wanted to take this space and quickly recognize the following individuals who really stand out right now for their hard work and efforts to help Dorchester grow and thrive:
* Jason and Kathy Duhrkop, owners of City Slickers, and their staff for improving their business and bringing special events like the June 4 concert to Dorchester. (Everyone in town, especially elected leaders, should be asking how they can help.)
* Timothy J. Vejraska, owner of Big T's BBQ Pit Stop, and his staff for giving Dorchester a viable mainstreet once again. Combined with City Slickers, Dorchester officially has the best restaurant and pub options in Saline County. And Big T's is now open 7 days a week!
* Amanda Cerny and other organizers of Boy Scout Troop 343. It's great to see Dorchester boys back in scouting, learning valuable life lessons and skills from role models in the community.
* The coaches of Dorchester sports. (You know who you are.) It's easy to coach when throngs of kids go out; it's more challenging when you have to work hard with the players you're given. From DHS wresting, to both basketball teams, to younger kids' basketball, to little league baseball, you're doing great work and it's getting noticed.
* The entire leadership of the Dorchester United Methodist Church. In many ways, the church remains the fabric of the community. We also commend the members of the community church on main street for their work to maintain a well-kept, clean property in a visible part of town.
* Dorchester School educators and school leaders. We know it's a challenging time to be in public schools, but Dorchester needs you and your dedication. We don't take you for granted.
* Dorchester Volunteer Fire Dept. and Rescue. This group is the most under appreciated group in town. If we could give them tax breaks as a way to say thank you, we would.
* All those involved in Dorchester's volunteer groups, from the Community Foundation to the Legion to the Elementary parents group. You all don't get the credit you deserve for keeping Dorchester moving forward.
* All members of the community who've made improvements to their properties, large or small, as well as those working hard to improve Dorchester's quality of life. Also, we commend those young Dorchester residents who've stayed in Dorchester or returned to make Dorchester an even stronger community. Our future depends on you.
As we said above, communities quit working when their members do.
Please use the comments section below and nominate anyone you think deserves to be recognized for their hard work to improve our community.