Belleville News-Democrat - get to know m.e. - I live here. I love it.
How long have you lived in the Metro-East?
All of my life – 18 years in Columbia, 25 years in Belleville, 25 years in Caseyville.
In what Metro-East city do you live?
What brought you here?
I was already here and thought this was a good place to start my business, Barcom.
What do you love most about the Metro-East?
The people. When someone from a big city meets someone they ask “what school did you go to?” In the Metro-East, folks ask “what town are you from?” There is pride in the community you call home.
What advice would you give someone moving to the area?
Get involved. Be a volunteer. Find the joy in giving.
What are your favorite attractions in the Metro-East?
The town festivals; homecomings; parades; Art on the Square; Wine, Dine and Jazz; etc. These are the events that draw the community together. You’re bound to have a conversation with an old friend and actually laugh out loud.
What do you think are the Metro-East’s best assets?
The people. We have a community spirit. Folks have grown up with each other and are friendly. They care about each other and the neighbors around them. There is a unique volunteer spirit that is born from this community. It is a spirit that developed from friendships formed on the playgrounds or at work. Take any event you can think of and it is produced by volunteers. They are connected by friendships built over time or from working on past events. Folks know they can count on each other. For instance, the Belleville Bicentennial was the product of over 1,000 volunteers. Art on the Square has approximately 600 volunteers every year and is lead by a committee of volunteers.
What do you like to do for fun in the Metro-East?
Attend the areas many festivals, homecomings and parades. If we aren’t at one of those events, we like to dine at local restaurants with friends.
Please list charities to which you lend your time.
At the present time, I am working on a campaign for the Greater Belleville Chamber of Commerce; the positive image campaign, Get to Know the Metro-East; Family Hospice 25th Anniversary Gala; the #1 art show in the nation, Art on the Square; and the Shriner Parade 5K.
Why do you think it’s important for people to volunteer and what drives you to volunteer?
Successful communities are a reflection of the people who care. They are built on the backs of volunteers who see a need and fill it. When people volunteer they see the faces of their friends and neighbors. They share the stories of their families and discuss ideas. The bonds of friendship are forged and the success of the community is a shared sense of pride. Organizations can no longer rely on government funding . Corporate America can also be crippled in its giving. During times of fiscal volatility, volunteers need to fill the gap. My life has benefited from the services that so many organizations offer. I feel it is my duty to give back. So many times we don’t see things unless they directly affect us. It is those services that volunteers fill that help us in ways we don’t know. Maybe a family is fed or shelter is provided or counseling is helping a problem. The fact that those needs are being met by volunteers improves our community. It raises up the level of our community and show s our caring spirit.
Have you made any special friends or memories in your volunteer work?
I am so fortunate to have met hundreds of volunteers over the years and even more fortunate to have made so many close friends and mentors. What better way to form lasting relationships that to work together to create something for the community. There is a special sense of joy in knowing that you have accomplished something that will help or benefit someone else. It is that special feeling that is the best memory.