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Chester County Press

Editorial: The invisible machine

03/29/2016 11:53AM ● By Richard Gaw
The exercise, as we have come to know, is one that is both common, simple and repeated.
Every week, the members of the editorial staff of the Chester County Press attend meetings that form the major bulk of this newspaper's news cycle. The articles that derive from our attendance pertain to the business of townships, boroughs, schools and civic associations – from Chadds Ford to Oxford and in municipalities in between. At the start of every meeting, elected and appointed officials enter the room and sit at the front of the meeting space, usually in a semi-circle or side-by-side. The Pledge of Allegiance is recited, and then the business begins, normally holding to a strict agenda of talking points. Although the format of these meetings allows for public comment, they adhere to a regimented design, and there is no question that these officials who conduct and monitor these meetings are the respective stars of their own shows. They are responsible for keeping the motor going that allows their respective agencies to keep running – they form The Visible Machine – and consequently, their names frequently appear front and center in this newspaper.
The truth is, however, that while they are responsible for keeping their townships, municipalities and organizations running, they're often not the ones doing the had lifting.
Volunteers do that.
In Franklin Township, members of the Franklin Sportsman's Association recently gave up several weekends to install a flagpole on the municipal office property.
In New Garden Township, its Historical Commission continues to restore once forlorn and neglected buildings that formed a piece of the township's rich history.
In Kennett Township, John Haedrich and Tom Nale, two long-time volunteers in the community, served as chief point people for the Kennett Bikeway Project, that now gives bicyclists and pedestrians safer access along Route 52 in the township.
In Jennersville, at the newly-formed Project C.U.R.E.'s Mid-Atlantic distribution center (profiled in this edition), a half dozen volunteer groups donated their time and energy to sort and identify thousands of medical supplies, that will eventually leave the facility and be distributed to medically underserved countries all around the globe.
The above stories barely scratch the surface of a movement that serves as The Invisible Machine -- the behind-the-scene activism of thousands upon thousands of volunteers in Chester County that keeps the energy of our communities most fully alive. Every one of them -- from high school students to retirees -- give of themselves selflessly without expecting even a hint of fanfare or applause.
To those who wish to join them, contact your local town or municipality. From board memberships to environmental clean-ups; from event planning to working with seniors, there are several opportunities to use your best strengths in making your community a stronger one.
To those who have already become part of these growing legions, however, here is your fanfare. Here is your applause. 
We thank you. 

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