have changed recently. I used to jealously guard my private time, my time at home with my family, my fantasy football and my couch. I was so excited when we upgraded our internet and got Netflix. Binge-watching TV series made me feel so modern. But now things are different. It started with the new school year. I am providing moral support for my eldest son who goes to early morning band practice four days a week. After he leaves to catch the bus, I send out streams of Troop Committee communications for the Boy Scouts and endless e-mails to Cub Scout parents to SELL MORE POPCORN! 

 This past week my evenings were filled with working concessions at the 6th Grade rec night on Monday, attending the Kiwanis meeting on Tuesday, participating in the High School Night at the Middle School on Wednesday and on Thursday going to the Boy Scout meeting at St. John’s. My weekends are spent running around hawking peanuts, popcorn and wreaths; attending soccer games at multiple times and locations; squeezing in visits with the grandparents. I rest peacefully at night secure in the knowledge that TOMORROW I GET TO WAKE UP EARLY and do it all over again. 

Why am I so motivated to give up my free time? I can tell you why. I am inspired by the youth of Forest Park. The young men in our new Boy Scout Troop never cease to amaze me with their unquenchable desire to do something for the community. At every opportunity, they make themselves available to serve. For example, this past Sunday one of our troop patrols met at St. John’s to attend the 8:30 a.m. service and sell wreaths afterwards. Eight scouts showed up. There are ONLY five scouts in each patrol. That’s 160 percent attendance…to go to church! And sell stuff! They do it because they want to buy a trailer so they can go camping. They’re meeting people and becoming part of the fabric of our community. They are helping parents like me become part of the fabric of our community. 

It’s hip to put down kids these days. It’s so easy to focus on their video game playing and their social media addictions, but this view is shortsighted and cynical. The kids I know in Forest Park have shown me a different side. They are strong. They care about their community. They have goals and work hard to meet them. They wake up early to play in the band. They stay after school to play on sports teams, learn Spanish and join clubs. They fill their evenings with youth sports, scouting, and gymnastics. They do all that and get their homework done by nine so they can get a decent night’s sleep.

What makes it even more exciting is that I am new to this game and far from alone. So many parents volunteer and step forward to make these opportunities available for our children. So many people in Forest Park give of themselves to make our community a vibrant and enriching place for our kids to grow up, our seniors to age, and for all people to engage in building a community full of pride and accomplishment.

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