I get to speak to the Men’s Group at Sawyerwood United Methodist Church in Springfield Township one Saturday morning in March every year.
The subject is Cleveland Browns football, but that doesn’t matter because just being there, with those guys, is a true privilege and honor – and a whole heckuva lot of fun. It is one of the highlights of my year, every year, for the 12 or so years I’ve been doing it. I wouldn’t miss it for the world.
The two-hour event, which begins with a lunch at 11, is held in the basement of the now 96-year-old church tucked down a side street in the Sawyerwood portion of Springfield, located just off U.S. 224, across the street from Springfield Lake and the township offices and fire and police stations. I love history, and to be in a historic church in one of Greater Akron’s historic communities like Sawyerwood is about as good as it gets.
Plus, the individuals who make up the group are good people and good – and very knowledgeable – Browns fans who ask some really insightful and thought-provoking questions. When the team has struggled the previous season, which had been the case for every year but one, the questions were deeper and more probing. That, for the first time since that initial year, the Browns were coming off a season that inspired some legitimate hope, made the discussion a lot more fun. Nobody wants to talk about losing, especially over an extended period of time.
But no matter what the situation with the Browns, the opportunity to speak with one of the many, many, many small groups based in one of the areas covered by The Suburbanite is both an inspiration and extremely rewarding, ad revealing.
We all know about the township trustees, school boards and other organizations because their meetings – and what happens in them – is important news in the area. It governs in very real and visible ways how the residents live. It shapes their lives.
But what we never hear about – or at least don’t hear much about – are the other countless groups that, for the people in them, are just as central to the everyday existence.
That’s what makes up communities and provides an interwoven web throughout them. These groups thrive, provide services, entertainment and resources, and stand as a way for the residents, and the areas and interests they serve, to carve out their own little niche and contribute their ounce or two of good.
All of these groups have a distinct and necessary role, existing for the benefit of the people in some way, shape or form. Remove that group from the scene and the community in which it is located becomes a little less overall – less fuller and complete, a little less of what it can be, should be and needs to be – than what it would otherwise be.
When these groups meet every week, every month or whatever schedule they’re on, it gives those members a sense of belonging and having relevance in some way, shape or form in that community as a whole.
We need to understand that, embrace that, encourage that and provide whatever necessary support to make it all work for the betterment of everyone not just in those groups, but also throughout those communities.
It’s the kind of stuff that serves as part of the engine that drives the area and makes our own little part of the world go round.