How do they do it? They took the first step

Saturday evening, the lights will come on, the Ferris wheel and the carousel will turn and the annual Exchange Club Fair will get underway.

With more than six decades of history behind it, the fair is a popular gathering place for locals. That fact was made very clear to me a couple of weeks ago when a gentleman from quite a way from Brookhaven called me to ask when “the fair” was coming up. Just to make sure which carnival-style event he was asking about, I responded, “Do you mean the Exchange Club Fair?”

“Of course,” he said, adding that he plans a trip home to Brookhaven each year to coincide with the late-summer fair.

Speaking in a preview story in Thursday’s paper, the Exchange Club’s Bill Haag echoed my caller’s thoughts: “It’s a gathering place for everyone right before school starts … It’s just a Brookhaven tradition.”

Besides providing a lot of people with a good time, the fair also helps the Exchange Club raise funds for upkeep of the fairgrounds and other facilities at Exchange Club Park. Money raised also goes for donations to a number of charities and for an annual scholarship to a deserving local student.

That’s a pretty good set of reasons to take the kids or grandkids out and ride the rides this weekend, buy some “fair food” and visit with old and new friends.

Events like this weekend’s fair are the result of scores of club members, spouses and other volunteers who put in a lot of effort to make sure things go off without a hitch.

The Exchange Club is just one of countless local organizations working to improve our community. It’s hard to find a facility or project in town that hasn’t been enhanced by the hands or donations of volunteers.

Some might argue that nobody has time to volunteer until they retire, and while many organizations around town may have a preponderance of older members, you’ll also find many people who have busy work schedules but somehow find the time to volunteer with a club, social organization or a church group.

Research can be found that shows performing non-work activity like a hobby or volunteer work can be as much of a stress reliever as just setting up shop on the recliner. Yes, it’s hard to talk yourself into doing something else after a busy day at work, but look at the many moms and dads out coaching youth sports teams, working with Girl and Boy Scouts or managing the food line or grill at a church cookout. Sometimes the busiest people just manage to also make time to do a little more.

If you don’t feel up to giving a long-term commitment to an organization but you think you might be up to trying volunteering for a little while on a “trial basis,” you might want to think about helping with a project like the United Way of Lincoln County’s current fund drive.

Volunteers are welcome, according to United Way campaign chairman Jason Snider, who was willing for us to share his phone number in hopes of finding some help. Call him at 601-695-8123 if you want to find out the details.

Other opportunities for giving of your time abound among the area’s many organizations. Check our Calendar listings, because many clubs and service groups post notices about meetings and other activities on a regular basis.

Sometimes, it just takes that first step to get things going.

 Rachel Eide is editor/general manager of The Daily Leader. Contact her at