Dedication, volunteerism make a better community

Our City
By American Falls Mayor Marc Beitia

Dedication…volunteerism…open doors. Do they go hand-in-hand or not so much? Are they alive and well or a thing of the past? I suppose it depends to a large degree on how you view society. What your perspective is as it were. For the past 30 plus years my perspective has been that of a high school Agricultural Science and Natural Resource teacher, FFA advisor and, up until 20 months ago, a coach. I have been fortunate enough to have coached and advised a state championship football team, track athletes, wrestlers, and FFA members. The best of the best on any given day. The one thing each champion shared was an unwavering dedication to a common goal. To be completely fair, I would have to say I have worked with far more who shared that same dedication but for one reason or another came up just short of their goal. What they did after their victory or defeat is what has defined them in my eyes. Some became content, some became permanently discouraged, while others fixed their sights on the next goal and kept working forward. Amy Manning and Maria Rangel, my former students, were both just short of their last goal in the last election, but trust me when I tell you they will astound many of you in the years to come, because dedication to them is an everyday thing. It is a way of being, it goes hand-in-hand with who and what they are.

This past Wednesday, Nov. 20, the City of American Falls dedicated the Downtown Revitalization project. Do you know how when you sit down to make a list of all the folks you need to thank for something, you invariably leave a key person off the list. Well I did that at the dedication ceremony. This person worked selflessly alongside Mayor Manning as the visioning and planning of the entire project took place. At the time I was a council person and was more tasked with the water and wastewater projects; and not on the inside track of the downtown revitalization. I still should have known the contribution this person made to the success of not only this project but many others as well. This council person is probably one of the longest serving city council members in the state, with over 22 years of dedicated service and volunteerism to her credit. Were it not for her commitment to economic development in Power and Bingham counties, she would most likely be in my present position. Kristen Jensen, thank you so much for your tireless commitment to those of us fortunate enough to be served by your passion and leadership in making American Falls such a wonderful place to live. Kristen, like Amy and Maria, you inspire me to be more than I thought I could be. You set the example for each of us in the council chambers to follow.

If you saw the front page of the Idaho State Journal on Thursday of last week you may have noticed a picture of me with two of my students, Eduardo Sanchez and Jonathon Ortiz. It was a very nice article. Thank you Debbie Bryce for covering the event so well. What Debbie couldn’t know and what I would like to share with you is how that picture came to be.

Eduardo and Jonathon are freshman students in my

Leaderership and Communications class; both are very quiet, reserved and extremely polite. Like most of the freshmen, it is difficult for them to speak in front of their peers, let alone publicly. But what they are not shy about is doing that “extra thing” that will make them successful in whatever they choose to do in the future. Three weeks ago I asked my class for volunteers to help plant the landscaping in the downtown project; Jeremy Peirsol was shorthanded and needed help to finish the project. Of the class of 23, only two hands went up, those of Eduardo and Jonathon. These two young men worked for three days on the project through its completion. Jeremy commented to me daily about their work ethic and dedication; their willingness to do extra. I would personally like to thank their parents, Jose and Maria Sanchez and Francisca Ortiz and Jose Torres, for raising such outstanding children.

What Eduardo and Jonathon may not have known when they raised their hands was that a door had opened for them and they chose to walk through it. Volunteerism is often that way though. You don’t do it because you may get something out of it, you do it because it is the right thing to do, the selfless thing to do. You walk through the door and get the job done. What the two young men did with their opportunity to serve, their work ethic and dedication, was solidify in my mind that they were of the same fabric as Amy, Maria and Kristen. I took a copy of the Journal to class on Tuesday and shared an object lesson with the class about dedication, volunteerism and open doors.

Now, I fully realize that I am a small fish in a small pond and that my influence is relatively small, but nonetheless I pledged before the class that I would do all that I could to make sure that Eduardo and Jonathon had every advantage I could afford them in the future because I truly believe our collective future needs more people like Amy, Maria and Kristen … and Eduardo and Jonathan.

Until next week…

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