Memorial Day Parade and Civic Engagement

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By: Amber Hill-Donhauser

For the past two years, Niagara Falls City Councilman Ken Tompkins has built quite an impressive parade organization when it comes to the Memorial Day Parade. 

It seems like every hour – alright, maybe every other hour – he and his wife Terry are consistently posting within the many social media forums to inquire about group and civic participation in the parade as well as updating the community about donors and etc.

At first glace, the job description of a city councilman does not include parade chairperson, but Ken has somehow written it in. In all seriousness, I think the community outreach that Councilman Tompkins has performed in his short tenure in office should be acknowledged and admired.

Civic engagement – in every sense – is what we need in this city. This ranges from attending City Council meetings (which are every other Wednesday in City Hall starting at 6:00pm – with the next meeting being THIS Wednesday, May 23rd) to volunteering in neighborhood cleanups or keeping up with your local block clubs (Norma Higgs serves with the Niagara Beautification Commission and Niagara Falls Block Club Council and can be found via Facebook).

Being involved in the community is rewarding. You have the opportunity to meet new people that are invested in where we live and want to see Niagara Falls look better and actually BE better.

Complaining on social media does not make the problem go away. Grab a shovel. Organize your neighborhood. Attend a city council meeting and sign up to be a speaker. Call your local legislator and ask questions.

I believe that one of the main reasons people do not initiate contact with groups to volunteer is fear. Whether that is fear of rejection or fear of the unknown, those that overcome it (just like I had to myself) will find the opportunity to give back more rewarding than they could have imagined; not to mention fun.

Or perhaps the reason you haven’t gotten involved is because you lack the contact information or event information. I have found that once you get your foot in the door, it becomes easier to be informed about the upcoming events.

Call, email, Facebook, or visit your local officials office because they will certainly know where there are events and volunteer opportunities. Or better yet, do your own thing, on your own time, and ask your neighbors to join you. Even if it’s that one Sunday a month after your religious practices and coffee time, you’re still making a difference by getting out, contributing, and putting something good back into our community.

This city desperately needs YOU. What are those old clichés…“Rome wasn’t built in a day” or “many hands make light work.” They both apply to our current situation in Niagara Falls.

Stretch out your hand, volunteer, and be part of something bigger than yourself. Today is the day.

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