A Quick Opinion: What makes Winters special?

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A Winters Express opinion column

By Charley Wallace
Publisher Emeritus

The Winters Chamber of Commerce is working on a new “The Winters Business & Relocation Guide.” Let your imagination decide what that means, but I was asked by the Chamber to help them with old photos and what I thought makes Winters special? I passed along the historical questions to the Historical Society of Winters, so that the Chamber wouldn’t get the history of Winters according to Charley.

Usually a visitor’s guide has a list of businesses, nonprofits, real estate and a little history. Oh, and a lot of paid advertising. Kind of puts me in between a rock and hard place if I want to help with this project. There are only so many advertising dollars in Winters and if a merchants spends money with the Chamber, it takes away from the dollars they will spend with the Express. Business is business, and even if I don’t own the Express anymore, I still want it to survive.

In the past, the Express put out a visitor guide and we sold all of the advertisements and helped support the Chamber in other ways. I’m sure it will be a good project and money maker for the Chamber and I’ll end up helping out where I can, but back to what makes Winters special.

Small towns are famous for putting on funky events and I heard good news last week when the Youth Day Committee gave a heads up on sponsoring the event on the last Saturday in April, its traditional day. This year the parade, Rotary Pancake (sausage) Breakfast, events in the park, horseshoe tournament, vendors and music should all be back.

Yes, I think Youth Day is part of what makes Winters special. It isn’t just trying to teach civics to our children, but all of the volunteers that it takes to make the event happen. Winters is changing and will continue to change, but people volunteering is what makes a town special. You might think of good schools, thriving business district or clean streets makes a community, but it is the people that make the world go round.

Social clubs and nonprofits have been in decline for decades and the pandemic didn’t help. Membership has declined in most of the organizations that I belong to but when the high school booster club disbanded I knew we were in trouble. The Youth Day Committee has been begging for help for years and I worry about the few volunteers that are left getting burned out. I was hoping that taking a few years off might re-energize their leadership and they would come back stronger than ever.

There is usually a plea in the Express asking for help, and I’m sure you will see it again this year. You need to raise your hand and volunteer, even it that is just picking up litter, pouring beer or judging Karaoke. The least you can do is attend a few Youth Day events and help support the groups that make Youth Day a viable event.

I don’t want to just single out Youth Day as there are many organizations in Winters that rely on volunteers and the public’s help to make their events succeed. Attending athletic matches, fundraisers and other community events will help you make new friends, give you a sense of purpose and keep Winters alive and well.

If you think that events just happen, you are wrong. Every event takes people to step up and put in time, energy and money hoping for a good turnout. If you are the type of person that sits on the sidelines and throws rocks, find a new hobby, you are only hurting yourself. When someone asks for help, step forward, if they don’t ask, think about raising your hand and asking if they need help.

I’m not sure getting back to normal is good enough. Normal wasn’t working that well before COVID-19, but maybe a new normal will bring out the best in all of us.

Have a good week.

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