Thank you to The Roaring Mouse (Jo White) for her very kind recollections of the Community On The Way (COW) Awards. When I moved to Edgewood, serving on the town’s Parks & Rec committee helped me get to know my community and meet lots of wonderful people. I noticed and appreciated people’s community involvement, how they shared their time and skills to make Edgewood a fine place to live. Whether it was helping to plow snow off a neighborhood road or sharing their talents to make community events and children’s programs happen, people participated. Recognizing those volunteer efforts with a thank you and sometimes an award just made sense (I fondly remember the fun of everyone ringing cow bells for each awardee).

Edgewood was/is not unique in that way, many small towns run on volunteers. Taking pride in your hometown, whether you were born here or chose to live here, means getting involved. Volunteer groups throughout the East Mountains are getting smaller and aging. We don’t seem to have as many 30- and 40-somethings getting active in community roles (btw, social media is a valid form of ‘community’ but in-person interaction is also needed). I’d like to encourage everyone to be more participatory in our local communities. Whether you help from time to time with a community event, or join an active civic, youth, or church group, there are many ways to shape your community to be the best it can be.

Having a hometown isn’t about where you sleep at night, it’s about belonging and contributing to something bigger than yourself. It’s about living life and creating a sense of place, a better place, in our world.

Linda Burke (Executive Director, Greater East Mountain Chamber of Commerce)

P.S. Yes, Jo White, like you, I did once receive a COW Award and like yours it’s collecting dust somewhere (mine’s in a box). Public recognition is nice, but the real joy comes from the people you get the privilege to know and work with as a volunteer. Jo White is herself an amazing woman. She has actively participated in her community as a teacher, library founder and volunteer, Pinto Bean Queen, children’s program coordinator and advocate, Melodrama Master, Lions Club member, arts advocate, minister, and cook-for-every-occasion extraordinaire! Not everyone needs to do as much as Jo has done, but with a sprinkle of her special pixie dust, we can each find something we want to help with to keep the magic of the East Mountains going.