“Why don’t the youth of our town stay around?” “We need jobs that keep our youth from leaving.” These sentiments are heard frequently at business, city and county meetings as well as at kitchen tables while parents lament that their children had to leave the area to find jobs.
Currently, Meadville is reaping the benefits of the young men and women who “stuck around.” Many are graduates of Allegheny College who decided to invest in the community. They have started businesses, worked in leadership positions within community and government organizations, supported the arts and helped develop a variety of programs, bringing new concepts and vision to our town.
One of the characteristics of being young with vision is that sometimes enthusiasm for movement and change disturbs the status quo. We are habitual in nature and even though we might think of ourselves as welcoming change, we generally have difficulty letting it run its course. The course has dips and detours that must be traversed as change moves us forward.
This is the predicament I feel Meadville is experiencing. Instead of building barriers, we need to guide these young enthusiasts, sharing talents and experiences to help and when things don’t go as projected, sharing the blame.
Small towns across America are experiencing many of the same perils that we are in Meadville. We have young men and women who are investing their time, energy and talents, making a commitment to be here and to make Meadville a better place for all.
Let’s embrace their energy (mentoring it appropriately) and let them know we appreciate them “sticking around.”