A good example in Driver

Published 9:52 pm Thursday, May 23, 2013

As folks deal with schedules that seem to get busier every year, community service organizations around the nation have fought not just to maintain their membership rolls but also to try to attract new and younger members, a new generation of people who consider it worthwhile to serve their communities.

Such organizations once thrived in America, and especially in the South. In fact, one of the largest community service organizations in the nation, Ruritan, got its start right here in Suffolk 85 years ago, when two gentlemen, Tom Downing of Suffolk and Jack Gwaltney of Holland, recognized the need for an organization where community leaders could meet and discuss ways to make their community a better place to live.

Much has changed since 1928, though, and one of the Ruritan clubs that had come along in the years following the meeting between Gwaltney and Downing was facing serious trouble as 2012 turned to 2013. Some of its members had followed jobs to other areas. Many others were too old or sick to attend meetings. Finally, with only six members remaining on the club’s roster, it looked as if the Driver Ruritan Club might close its doors for good.


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But a community organization that has been the beneficiary of Driver Ruritan’s generosity came to the rescue, and now the future looks better than ever for the club. Twenty-one fresh faces representing Cub Scout Pack 89 and Boy Scout Troop 16, both based at Driver’s Beech Grove United Methodist Church, joined the dwindling Ruritan ranks recently, and the result has been a true revitalization for Driver Ruritan.

Fundraisers already have found more success than they had last year, and there are plans to bring back community support activities, including a scholarship at Nansemond River High School, that had been allowed to lapse in the face of dwindling membership.

The new members include adult leaders and even some of the high school and middle school Scouts, along with a few of their parents. With that kind of broad support and involvement, Driver Ruritan can expect many more years of working to improve the community. And the new members — especially the young ones — will learn the value of making that kind of selfless commitment.

The Driver solution might not work for every community service organization facing membership pressures, but the Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, parents and leaders who have joined the Driver Ruritan Club have set a wonderful example of community support.