Don’t wait, just do it

Published 4:47 am Thursday, February 7, 2008

By Staff
Mitch St. Clair and Henry Hinton are right.
Both men spoke — St. Clair briefly and Hinton at length — during the Washington-Beaufort County Chamber of Commerce’s annual awards banquet last week. They talked about people helping and improving themselves by doing something, not talking about it or waiting for others to do the work required to bring about the help and improvement.
St. Clair said his philosophy about helping the community is a simple one: “If we don’t do it, who’s going to do it?”
Hinton suggested the area’s leaders become proactive and not wait for others, especially politicians and state government, to help them.
That philosophy is sound.
Take the newly opened Patrick Cochran Memorial Skatepark in Washington as an example. That skatepark is an excellent example of the community coming together to support a public-private partnership that did what it took to raise the money and build the 8,000-square-foot skatepark.
Once the skatepark project became public knowledge, the community got behind the skatepark project, with many people and several organizations raising money for the skatepark by way of private donations, fundraising activities and other methods. PCM Skatepark sweatshirts, T-shirts and hoodies were sold to raise money for the project. People bought brick pavers to honor or commemorate someone, and those pavers will become a part of the skatepark complex.
Take the new Ponzer Fire and Rescue, which went into service on Dec. 7. It’s also an excellent example of people deciding that if they didn’t do something to provide fire protection and emergency medical services for their community, it probably wouldn’t get done.
Ponzer Fire and Rescue is a testament to what can be accomplished by a small community that is determined to reach an objective, according to Hyde County officials. The community raised $200,000 by way of fundraisers — selling meals, holding an auction, selling concessions at the Fourth of July mud run in Belhaven and organizing a trail ride.
Macon and Sherry Smithwick donated the 1.5-acre property on which the department’s building was built. Macon Smithwick’s brother Gilbert lost a house to fire in 2005. They knew getting involved would improve the chances of their community getting the fire protection and emergency medical services it deserves.
When the Ponzer folks began their effort to establish Ponzer Fire and Rescue, other fire departments and EMS providers took notice. Those who help themselves are more likely to receive help from others than those who don’t at least try to help themselves. That proved true in this case.
Fire departments across North Carolina helped by providing equipment to the Ponzer department. Fire engines were sold to the Ponzer department at cut-rate prices. One cost $1; another cost $1,000. A fire truck and a “jaws of life” extrication tool were donated by the Columbia Fire Department; Kitty Hawk’s fire department donated pagers.
Want to improve the community? Want the community to accomplish a specific goal?
If so, that’s going to require something more than wishes or talk. That’s going to require action. That’s going to require someone to do something.
As St. Clair, recipient of this year’s Washington-Beaufort County Chamber of Commerce’s community leader of the year award, said, “If we don’t do it, who’s going to do it?”
And to borrow a phrase from Nike: Just do it.