March 10, 2002
She would probably shy away from the notoriety, but Gloria Jolly is the kind of community activist whose leadership is essential to Lauderdale County's future. As a guiding influence in the Russell Community Development Club, she's seen many changes in her piece of ground over the years and yet she's always working for the cause of a higher quality of life.
Mrs. Jolly and the club were kind enough to host the local daily newspaper editor and his wife the other night at their 50-plus-year-old club building on Russell-Marion Road. You can't miss it it's right beside the Russell Volunteer Fire Department building. And that's a story in itself.
Under the direction of Gary Newell, chief of the Russell VFD, the firefighters are currently engaged in an ambitious renovation project that will add much-needed space to their building. I said the firefighters are engaged in a renovation project, but that doesn't tell the whole story. The fact is the entire community is engaged in the project.
In a program similar to other Lauderdale County VFDs, a voluntary $1 add-on to the water bill helps with funding about 99 percent of the water system's customers already chip in and individuals have been very generous with their own time and talents in making the physical facilities better.
In talking with Mrs. Jolly, her husband, Jay, and other informed and interested members of the Russell club, I was reminded that this is what community involvement activism, if you want to use that word is all about. It's about taking a personal interest in your neighbors and neighborhoods. It's about sharing a pot-luck supper (last Thursday was soup and chili night), visiting with fellow residents and catching up on the news.
It's about making a difference.
It's about trying to figure out how to improve the club's accommodations, a costly endeavor under the best of circumstances, without borrowing any money. Newell and the Russell VFD are doing that now, expanding the firehouse under the self-imposed mandate that when it's finished it will be paid for. No debt.
What a wonderful concept.
But more so than the physical facilities, people like these in clubs and organizations like these are the real treasure. Their work makes life better in our entire community. They give selflessly, solve problems, make decisions and tend to needs without seeking a lot of attention.
It's Lauderdale County, Mississippi and America at their best. If you haven't spent an evening at one of our local community development clubs lately, go do it. Visitors are always welcome, the people are great, and the food's good, too. In short, it's a treat.
Better yet, why not just go ahead and join one yourself. Make a difference.