Downtown benefits from volunteering

My mother had a great saying about voting. She said she always voted every time she could in order to have the right to gripe about decisions elected officials made. She told me that if I didn’t vote I didn’t have the right to gripe. And who doesn’t like to gripe?

I think this theory also applies to the idea of volunteering to improve downtown Parkersburg. It’s pretty easy to complain about things in our community. While it doesn’t cost anything, complaining isn’t worth much unless you choose to do something about it. Complaining doesn’t change things. Doing something does.

It is understandable that often an individual can’t always know where to start. A lot of the challenges seem overwhelming and it’s often difficult to know where to begin. The good news about downtown Parkersburg’s challenges is that hundreds of downtowns across the U.S. have been dealing with the same issues for 50 years. Those communities have paved the way from us to learn for their mistakes and successes. That’s how the national Main Street program began.

Downtown PKB is a national Main Street program. The committees of Downtown PKB are looking for ways to improve the way downtown Parkersburg operates. This entails looking for opportunities to help downtown businesses and citizens create a better community to live in and enjoy. And there’s plenty to do.

Downtown PKB does things. The Point Park Music Series is a great example of volunteers doing something worthwhile. So is the Taste of Parkersburg, or the Downtown Farmers’ Market, or the Downtown Design Committee, or the Promotions Committee or the Economic Restructuring Committee. All of these groups of volunteers are working on projects that can make our community’s downtown a better place to live, work or play.

There are opportunities to really change the way our community looks and feels. Downtown PKB has volunteer groups that assist business and building owners create greater success in growing their business. There is a group working on making downtown better for walking and biking, and a group working on addressing parking issues. There is a group working on helping improve the look of empty storefronts, as well as a group working on filling those storefronts with businesses.

There’s an old adage that sometimes small businesses like ours spend so much of our time working in our business that we don’t take time to work on our business. The difference between the two is strategic planning. Constantly examining your business or community is the best way to impact its outcome.

And a life without volunteering is an unexamined life. And Socrates was correct when he said that the unexamined life was not worth living. Carrie Nesselrode, the Executive Director of Downtown PKB, would love to connect anyone who desires to volunteer to examine and participate in downtown Parkersburg’s revitalization. Call her at 304-865-0522 if you want to volunteer. Don’t call her to complain.

We all have to decide whether or not we have a right to gripe. Are you a doer or a complainer? Would you like to become part of Downtown PKB? Or are you going to join the group my friend Keith Burdette calls C.A.V.E. People, (Citizens Against Virtually Everything)?

Come see me. I’ll be in the lounge.


Cecil Childress is General Manager of the Blennerhassett Hotel and Chairman of Downtown PKB.