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Summer Cleansing

by Kelly Chopus

August 5,2006

Is it August already?

August means school is almost in session and moms everywhere are looking skyward with hands clasped in anticipation. August means the annual United Way campaign is just around the corner and Charlotteans will be searching their hearts and wallets to support those of us in need. August means Leadership Charlotte will bring another group of strangers and soon to be friends into the mountains for the first of several training days. August also means it is time to think sports: Panthers, Bobcats, and my kids’ soccer games. It is “tax free” shopping, steamy days, fireflies and that last family getaway. August is as much a time for new beginnings as that big day in January. Everybody’s slate is clean.

It can’t be August already.

In August, we have lots to look forward to, and to be hopeful for and about. In August, we plan how we are going to use that clean slate. This August, one of Charlotte’s groups Most in Desperate Need (if there was an award show…..) of a Clean Slate is the School Board. I can’t wait to see how the School Board selection process turns out. With 40 regular Joes and Josephines signing their names to the application for the seat vacated recently by the fabulous Kit Cramer, more of the public is engaged in this drama as ever. Interest in the outcomes regarding education has lots and lots of people willing to serve. My neighbor has thrown his hat into the ring for consideration. I am proud of him and his desire to participate and make schools better for children and families. Kit would be proud of the groundswell. She left something positive for all of us…quiet and do-the-right thing activism. I sense a historic transition somewhere in this mess.

Still more people are writing letters and showing up at meetings in support of new Charlottean, Dr. Peter Gorman. Soon after that last calamitous County Commission meeting (Commissioners voted against the recommendations of a task force empowered and created by said Commission to determine common ground on school bonds) regular folks got fed up. Talk about activism. People sense that Charlotte is on the cusp of great change in education, and that change could be one big fat flop, or it could be exactly what we need to produce intelligent, thoughtful and compassionate citizens ready to enter the work force and the community. Dr. Gorman is the flag bearer for the latter, and we believe him. We just need to get the rest of our elected body in line to support him, and their constituents. Dr. Gorman will have a very busy August writing his slate.

Education isn’t the only issue regular Joes and Josephines are getting busy with this August. The United Way is preparing to launch its 75th Anniversary Campaign early next month. With a $44 million stretch goal, the health and human services clearinghouse promotes community activism the same way as education proponents – through personal commitments and volunteering. Ninety-seven agencies serving our children, our elderly, our families in crisis and our community count on the annual campaign, and all of us, to nurture those among us in need and in time of great hardship. These agencies do the work that most of us are unable, or unwilling, to do. They serve those Charlotteans sometimes overlooked by the rest of us. Talk about activism.

It is no surprise to me that Charlotteans are among the top givers in the country, both in generosity of time and payroll deductions. Wow. Happy 75th Birthday! The United Way will have a very busy August preparing for new beginnings.

It takes an extraordinary amount of committed people to make our City run well. The relaxed summer pace in the South lets us all take a respite and then rejuvenate for bigger and better things to come. Visualizing that clean slate.  Yep. I love August.

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