#betterbarre Turns a Hashtag into Community Activism

by Jeffrey Tuper-Giles and Sara Akers

It all started with a simple do-good act. In early June, Barre City Council members heard the call of Sara Akers and some concerned community members who were upset about the trash that was surrounding one of the local city playgrounds. Council members from each of the three wards rolled up their sleeves and got to work. Akers, a very active community member, posted a live video on social media of what was taking place at the local park. Viewers of the video were excited about this, and some even came to lend a hand with the clean up. The video spread on social media and within a day the amount of views sky-rocketed to over 3,500. With the community showing so much support, it started a movement.

#betterbarre isn’t just about picking up trash (although that is very important). It is about doing good in the community and thinking about someone other than yourself. The idea of community coming together and doing good isn’t a new one. #betterbarre is just giving it a voice and platform. We are looking for anything that you can do to better the community and strengthen the bond of neighborly kindness.

Here are just a few outstanding organizations that are creating a #betterbarre:

The Barre Partnership: The Barre Partnership has been working to #betterbarre for as long as they have been around. They have worked with businesses and organizations to bring beauty to the downtown, encourage economic growth, and bring music and locally grown food to the downtown. If you want to learn more, become a board member or just volunteer at one of their many events. Check them out at thebarrepartnership.com

The Barre Community Justice Center: The Barre Community Justice Center helps make a #betterbarre by giving victims of crime a choice and a voice, and by helping participants in their restorative justice programs make positive connections with the community and develop empathy and understanding regarding victims. Community volunteers give hundreds of hours to the center, and they are an open door to those in need as well as a connector to services in the Barre One Stop, providing conflict resolution services for residents. The center is always in need of volunteers. Call and find out how you can make a difference. (802) 476-0276.

Cornerstone Foundation: Rich McSheffrey, a lifelong Barre man, has taken on the task of rehabilitating the baseball field near Rotary Park. This park fell into ruins after the 2011 flood that covered the field. Rich wants the youths of Barre to have a place where they can play little league ball. What a great way to #betterbarre! For more information contact McSheffrey at rich@cornerstonepk.com

BCEMS Garden: Kris Pavek is the current head of the garden and has done wonderful work making the gardens accessible to all students no matter what their capabilities. She spearheads fundraising and grant proposal writing with her team to make fresh local food available for the Meals on Wheels program, for the elementary school, which uses the greens in their salads, and even for Maria’s Bagels, which uses the locally grown chives in their cream cheese. To find out more, look for the Friends of BCEMS Garden on Facebook to make a difference.

Barre City Recreation Department: The Recreation Department is a resource that has been a well-hidden secret. They are “Creating community through people, parks, and programs,” and engaging folks interested in volunteering for such projects as leading arts-and-crafts classes around a holiday, hosting game days on school vacation, leading exercise classes, running cooking classes, teaching photography, or supervising an open gym program. The possibilities are endless, especially when we reach out into the community to share in each other’s talents. Low cost/no cost programs are possible with a solid core of volunteers. Please visit their page at barrecity.org to learn more.

Barre Rotary Club: Barre Rotary continues to be a powerfully active force in our local community and beyond. Established in 1924, Barre Rotary has donated tens of thousands of dollars over the past 94 years to good works locally and abroad. Over the past year they have been involved in so many activities and community events we can’t list them all here, but you can visit its Facebook page to see what’s been going on.

  • Other ways that you can create a #betterbarre:
  • Volunteer for local organizations.
  • If you see something, say something.
  • Involve yourself in city council meetings.
  • Donate clothing, food, books, money, or other items to local organizations.
  • Shop at local businesses.
  • Organize groups to clean up different areas in the city.
  • Plan a fundraiser for someone in need.
  • Educate youths on the importance of being involved in the community.
  • Pay it forward.

We encourage those who want to see change to be a part of that change. Step away from your device and get out there and help make a difference in our small community. If you or someone else is helping to #betterbarre, please take a photo or video of your good deed and post it to our Facebook page BetterBarre!

Jeffrey Tuper-Giles is a city councilor from Ward 1 in Barre. Sara Akers is a board member of the Barre Partnership.

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