I always seemed older than my peers. I matured sooner, married earlier, had children before anyone else in my age group. I began keeping house before my friends were visiting sorority houses. My whole life has been devoted to making things better for the people in my life and the place that I live. One of my early columns for the Dale City Patch was titled: I tried to explain what drives me, to describe what pride feels like and to engage readers to see if anyone out there feels the same.
It’s not surprising to know that most of my close friends understand and have many of those same values. What does surprise me is how many people, good-hearted, well-intentioned, decent human beings are not affected by their surroundings or driven to take action to make a difference.
The urgent need to make a difference in my community has led to my involvement with many groups and organizations to learn the varying skills and knowledge from smart people everywhere I go. Prince William County is a great teacher. Citizens are asked to participate in numerous boards and commissions to offer a citizen perspective to the way county government works, but as a participant, you discover you learn as much as you share.
Initially, I thought my role as a citizen advocate was just to bring a problem to the attention of officials and those officials would “fix” it. That actually does still work occasionally, as evidenced on Friday:
A young man made a comment on Facebook. He complained about the trash and debris near the ramp at I-95 and Dale City. Soon others chimed in and a couple offered solutions via “You should” suggestions. A bevy of thoughts ran through my head: “Organize a cleanup!” “Call Keep Prince William Beautiful- let them organize a cleanup!” “Call VDOT, it’s their responsibility!”
Here’s where the advantage of being active in PWC becomes obvious. My first reaction when hearing about litter or illegal dumping is always to organize a cleanup. In this case, that area is too dangerous for a group of volunteers. Public safety is a top priority and most volunteers are not skilled in avoiding being flattened by an 18-wheeler.
The Keep Prince William Beautiful organization provides safety vests and trash bags, as well as safety tips for working a cleanup, but that area is still too dangerous for volunteers. I could call VDOT, but that’s going to go in a long list of calls and while waiting for my complaint to percolate to the top, trash blowing around in March winds could be disastrous.
I called my supervisor’s office for action. That is not the first place I go for action, but it is the place I go when I can’t fix something quickly, safely or efficiently at the citizen level.
That kind of thinking is what spurred the creation of the Neabsco Action Alliance. I won’t take a lot of column space describing the ideology we’re building. I am going to ask you to join us to learn more. Details are on our calendar page or here on Patch.
Oh, by the way, Supervisor Jenkins asked the county litter crew to go out to pick up that trash and litter! Thanks to the citizen who brought it to our attention, Kelly Easterly for facilitating my request, and the PWC Litter Crew for their response!