Our community has truly come together in support of the gym and music initiative. This became evident at the kick-off event on Saturday night. The number of people and the enthusiasm were amazing. We had enough people connected through outstretched hands to outline the entire perimeter of the gym and performing arts studio.
The symbolism was huge – a community coming together to form the structure. Without the people there was just a chalk line and some cones. It was the people who brought it to life.
It was great to see the community coming out to support a “Place to Play.” At the True Grit event we had lots of people come by our booth for a burger, but for the first time we saw all that support in a single place. It was the answer to a question that has been bugging me.
For weeks I’ve been wondering if someone would write an editorial or call me and tell me that I’m off my rocker for supporting such an undertaking. People in Ridgway express their feelings pretty freely, but it has been perplexing that the voice of the many has been so silent. So there it was. Yep, I’m off my rocker all right, but not with respect to a place to play. The community clearly supports the initiative.
So now we enter into a sort of second phase of the fun-draising. We’re within striking distance of $600,000 and people are weighing in with donations of all sizes, not just eating the food or playing the games. On Saturday we raised over $5,000 in less than two hours.
But this second phase will take more effort still. The key now is momentum. We have clearly demonstrated that the community supports a place to play. In the overall scheme of things it is important that the community weigh in early with support. This demonstrates to major donors and foundations, both public and private, that the hearts, minds and wallets of Ridgway are willing to make some sacrifices for music, sport and place to get together. Keeping the momentum going shows just how important it is.
But, lest anyone wonder what difference one person can make, it is actually the small and subtle things that have had the greatest impact. After students took to the town park last summer to wave at cars and carry signs in support of a place to play there was a sizeable response in positive phone calls to the school. It is undoubtedly the presence of our children off all ages that has triggered some of the large donations that have come in thus far.
And so I call on the students themselves to get creative and take to the streets once more as a further manifestation that they are tired of portaging over to the elementary school for music education or playing ball in a gym where the balls all too often are bouncing around in the rafters of an inadequate facility. The organizers of the “Place to Play” initiative have gotten things rolling with the banners, signs, events, publicity, and this week a community mailing. But now it starts to depend on the students to show how much they want this facility in the community. Take to the streets and just show how much you want it!
That is the bottom line. No effort or amount is too small. Everybody and every penny count towards the goal. And quite frankly it is time for some new and creative juices to get flowing. The old guard, who have been pulling the initiative along since the beginning, are showing serious signs of strain. In column after column I’ve pleaded for additional volunteers. Uptake has been slow. One person responded with a very creative real estate idea that could generate substantial funds and another family just wanted to help. But outside of these few, the new crop of volunteers has seemed a bit reluctant.
Perhaps it is because some have been waiting to see just how serious the rest of the community is about getting a place to play.
Well, Saturday should be the evidence that we can do this. No effort or amount has thus far been too small. But we have to keep the small efforts and amounts moving along and ask again for new volunteers to help shoulder a bit of the burden.
In order to have a place to play we need everybody and every penny! To get involved, call Kelly at 626-4444.
Dale Hagemeyer is a member of the Communications Committee for the Ridgway Secondary School Gym/Performing Arts Studio Funding Committee. He lives in the