More than 50 people turned out for the first meeting of ‘Community Pride’ – a volunteer initiative around Longford town that aims to further improve the urban area.
Organiser Andy Smith explained that it was agreed at a recent meeting of Longford Lions club that such an initiative would be very positive for Longford and following discussions with Chamber of Commerce, Tidy Towns and the Volunteer Centre, the ‘Community Pride’ volunteer initiative was formed.
“Those of you in attendance are here because you care about Longford and about its future and because you want to have a say in what that future will be,” said Andy.
The plan of action was outlined and attendees were told that volunteer work was scheduled for Monday May 14 at 10am, which coincides with National Volunteer week 14th - 20th May.
The initial projects that the new group will be focussing on are: a landscaping project at the ‘Black Bridge’ on Ardagh road; washing and painting of all signs around town and approach roads; Streetscape, which is a street-by-street plan to make any necessary improvements and restorations; power washing and painting designated council houses; Maintaining hedges, shrubs and flower beds around town; Community vegetable garden work.
Chamber President Seamus Butler spoke about the importance of taking pride in Longford.
“Despite some people’s perceptions, Longford is as good as any other midlands town and has many things to be proud of,” he noted.
He urged businesspeople to take an active role in volunteering their expertise and energy for community projects and putting something back into the community where they make their living.
Mr Butler highlighted the upcoming ‘Longford Expo’, which will showcase many Longford groups and businesses over the weekend of May 25/26 as an example of something very positive around town.
He is also hopeful that local employment can be gained by the restoration of the Cathedral and indeed that Longford can become a centre of knowledge for conservation training, where he sees an opportunity as there is nowhere in Ireland that provides training in such work.
Angela Killian spoke on behalf of the Longford Volunteer Centre, which is hosted by Longford Community Resources Ltd with whom all volunteers are asked to register. She outlined the work that she and her colleague Terri Doherty do at the centre, which includes giving advice to volunteers about volunteering and working with organisations around Longford.
An interesting survey was mentioned by Angela, which uncovered the answer to the question, ‘Why do people volunteer?’ The most frequent answer was simply, ‘because I was asked’ (volunteer website on www.volunteerlongford.ie).
Andy O’Dowd, who has spearheaded the work of Longford Tidy Towns since 2002, spoke about the challenges that the group have had over the years and also the achievements they have had. Mr O’Dowd thanked all those who give continued support to Tidy Towns and reminded people about the upcoming fundraider on May 18th with ‘A Night at the Dogs’ at Longford Greyhound Track.
In bringing the meeting to a close, Andy Smith urged all those gathered to spread the word.
“This gathering is a great start that we can build on. In the present situation that we find ourselves in, many people can feel paralysed by negativity and the doom and gloom of the daily news.
“It is, however, possible to rise above this by taking action, which will motivate further action and this creates a space for new thinking and fresh ideas which will benefit us all,” he said.
“We want also to make this a social and fun thing to be part of, where people can enjoy meeting new friends while volunteering. We must regain the community spirit of yesteryear and learn again to work together for our common good in restoring confidence in our own ability to provide for ourselves locally.
“We must take back our right to make decisions for ourselves at local level and with that accept the responsibility we have in shaping our own future.”
If you would like to be part of ‘Community Pride’ volunteering, contact Andy O Dowd at 087 9633868 or Angela Killian at 086 8215219.
Footnote – Andy Smith would like to clarify that comments he made in last week’s Leader were in no way intended to offend members of Longford Tidy Towns. He praised their work and said this initiative is actually inspired by the work of the people involved in Tidy towns.