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Will It Build Goodwill and Better Friendships?

February 1, 2019

Beth Wallace

In Support of Jane Radocchia's Proposal

So many of the service projects we support over the course of our Rotary year are about bringing members of the community together for a common goal. Though the intention of the project is not always social, this is both the unintended consequence of our work together and, I would argue, one of the reasons we continue to serve. It is what brings many of us back to Rotary each week.

Humans naturally crave connection. Introverts and extroverts alike – we all yearn for a sense of belonging, a sense that we are a part of- and are valued by- our community. Connecting with our neighbors gives us strength. Our connection binds us together, creating a sense of responsibility for each other and reminding us that we are all in "this" together. We are supported by our social networks: uplifting our neighbors when they are in need and leaning on others when we find ourselves weak. Perhaps this is why "goodwill and better friendships" is so important as to be included in our four-way test. Rotarians value community.

At our last General Assembly, Jane Radocchia presented a proposal: Bennington Rotary Club could coordinate with local agencies, schools and businesses to bring a sense of community back to Town Meeting Day. Together with others, we could serve refreshments in the back of the River Street Firehouse, open to voters after they completed their civic duty. We could create the opportunity for folks to linger, to engage in dialogue, to connect. (What brings people together better than food, right?)

Jane recalled, as I did, sharing a cup of coffee with neighbors on Town Meeting Day years ago; enjoying a conversation and connection, regardless of our individual politics. I remembered attending the polls as a child at the Shaftsbury Fire House, where my Nana and her fellow Methodist Women served donuts and hot soup to voters. It was a day I looked forward to; an opportunity to see members of my community I may not have seen all year. I recalled observing doctors and farmers and teachers sitting or standing with a donut in hand, talking and laughing together.

As our country and politics become increasingly divided, this small-town tradition restored is just what we need. A reminder that we are all in this together, that in spite of our differences we are members of our community, connected and connecting, relying on each other.

Who better to spearhead this campaign of building goodwill and better friendships than Rotarians?

Author: Beth Wallace
Sally Sugarman (Club Member & Windmill Editor)

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