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‘A boat against the current’

There are a variety of reasons why we are living in divisive times. Many things pull people apart nowadays, and there are unfortunate consequences that flow out of that. One consequence is that common graces in society, like volunteerism, are on the decline.

I was attending a special meeting at the Farmville Town Hall last week, and a member of the struggling Prince Edward Volunteer Rescue Squad noted that volunteerism is dying.

Some of the answers to the question of why are fairly straightforward. After asking what training he would have to receive if he wanted to volunteer with the squad, Farmville Mayor David Whitus was informed he would need to go through 160-180 hours of EMT training, roughly equal to an associate degree.

But there are other forms of volunteerism aside from rescue squad work, so the overall decline can’t simply be explained away by the increased complexity of rescue work.

Whatever the reasons, after last week’s special meeting, Longwood University President W. Taylor Reveley IV, who was in attendance, described Farmville as “a boat against the current, doing things differently.”

The special meeting was called so representatives of the Farmville Town Council, the Prince Edward Board of Supervisors, Longwood and Hampden-Sydney College could learn about the great financial and practical difficulties that the Prince Edward Volunteer Rescue Squad is and has been facing. The meeting, called by Whitus, was also meant to be a forum for ideas on what the squad can do to stay alive.

After the squad’s situation was clearly laid out and understood as being dire, Whitus signaled a profound turning point in the meeting with a simple statement.

“I say all the time, as does President Reveley, that this is a unique community,” he said. “We have unique qualities that other communities don’t have, and I think the people that are in this room, the four entities — Longwood, Hampden-Sydney, the county and the town — are in a unique position to reach out and help the rescue squad and make this work.”

The four entities agreed to send representatives to the January meeting of the rescue squad’s executive committee to offer ideas on a way forward for the organization.

As easy as it is to be pessimistic in divisive times like these, I was witness to what Reveley’s and Whitus’ lofty description of Farmville looks like in practice.

It was objectively amazing and something to celebrate, without a doubt.

TITUS MOHLER is the sports editor for The Farmville Herald and Farmville Newsmedia, LLC. His email address is Titus.Mohler@FarmvilleHerald.com.