Setting a fine example

Published 9:22 pm Thursday, June 9, 2011

It takes all sorts of people to make a city feel like home. Though city councils and school boards and planning commissions tend to get most of the headlines, they often get far too much credit for the intangible things that bring the disparate people and organizations into focus to make the picture of a place that is more than just a place to live.

City administrators, of course, share in bringing that picture into focus, as do the professionals who work to provide the services that residents come to count on in their daily lives, whether at the municipal level or on the streets. Businesses and community organizations also play a part, providing their own services that can range from vital to indulgent.

On Tuesday, the Suffolk Department of Parks and Recreation honored another, often overlooked, group of people who help give the city its unique flavor: involved youth. During its second Youth Achievement Awards ceremony, Suffolk took a moment to acknowledge the many young people who volunteer around the city, spearhead improvement efforts or just buckle down and excel in school.

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It was a night to celebrate the contributions of a group that often feels unable to exert much influence, a group that sometimes feels ignored by the city officials and community leaders who set the city’s agenda, a group that as often as not finds itself blamed for the problems facing the city, instead of hailed as part of the solution to those problems.

On Tuesday, at least, some of the outstanding members of that young group were the center of attention, as they found themselves feted for their selfless acts, praised for their successes and encouraged in their work to build community.

“Your role in our community will ensure our community is the best in the Tidewater,” said Ira Steingold, chair of Suffolk Parks and Recreation’s advisory committee. “We are all better off because of you.”

There’s no better way to put it, and there’s little to add, except to say this: Thanks to those who were honored on Tuesday for your hard work to make Suffolk feel like home. You deserve our gratitude and our praise for the work you do and for the example you set.