One of the best parts of living in a college town is being able to see the good things that students do in their adopted community.
The after-hours parties get more headlines but that’s too bad because it only reflects a small portion of the student body and how they spend their time.
As City Manager I have had a chance to meet a lot of student leaders, and the adminstrators at Kent State University, that help channel all that positive student energy into projects throughout the Kent community — and Kent is a better place because of them.
Kent has a lot of great things going on downtown that hold promise for an economic recovery and a brighter future for all of us, but it’s also a place that works hard to open doors to people from all socio-economic levels, making room for low income and distressed families that other communities have squeezed out.
Kent residents are proud of their socially conscious community but let’s be frank, it comes at a price. Unlike many of our neighborhing cities Kent has children living in poverty, homelessness, and at-risk families who need extra help, and those disenfranchised groups look to their local government to come to their aid and help them lift themselves to a better place in their lives. That safety net comes at a price.
Kent will not turn its back to those in need, but as City resources suffer the same fate as the economy, the local will remains strong but our pockets are less full than ever before which is why community support networks like Family and Community Services, Coleman Services, Town Hall II and others play such a vital role in our holding our community together.
These organizations are well known in local circles for their services because their impact often depends on the generosity of others, so it pays to make sure people know about the good works that they do.
It turns out that Kent State University is also a significant player in supporting local community services, tapping into student idealism to change the world; it just happens to go about this mission more quietly than the other service providers on-call in Kent. Literally thousands of hours of volunteer services are provided by Kent State Univeristy students in Kent and Portage County each year, to help reach those with unmet needs.
I’ve seen what hundreds of inspired students are capable of doing when they set their mind to it, which is another reason why I’m so grateful that 100 years ago the founding fathers of Kent State University chose to call Kent their home.
A good example of an upcoming student program is their annual food drive. If you can support the students, please do, but if not at least know that the students are donating their time and talents to try to make sure that a local family has food to put on their table.