Meadville became my adopted home 30 years ago when I arrived after graduating from college to take a job with a local nonprofit. My husband and I bought a home here in the early '90s where we remain the “newest” neighbors in our immediate East End neighborhood. We threw ourselves into the community, but the longer we were here, the more disheartened we became about our town.

It seemed that the life of it was simply disappearing as the downtown emptied of both businesses and people; once-beautiful parks got the bare minimum of attention; properties were increasingly rundown; and many of those with means moved to the surrounding townships. We stayed put because we love our neighborhood.

I started working at Allegheny College in 2000 where I began to see first-hand the incredible number of hours of service that its students devote to the community — pushing 70,000 a year now. One learns the names of the student leaders as they become involved with both the college and Meadville communities.

Some, like Autumn Vogel, you just know are special and you watch them in awe. While at Allegheny, she earned top grades, participated in leadership conferences on and off campus, involved herself in a number of student organizations, and made a name for herself in the area.

I was thrilled when Autumn and some of her closest friends — similarly engaged — chose to make Meadville home after their graduations. They provided the spark that has inspired a resurgence of engagement and optimism in others about Meadville’s and the county’s future that I have not seen in a very long time. They may not have all of the answers yet, but they are bright, ask questions, and bring ideas, energy and passion for this place that we call home. They give me great hope for the future.

Autumn Vogel is just who we need on city council now. Please join me in voting for her.

MELISSA MENCOTTI

Meadville

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