We grow up with what we know. Most of us also grew up in a time that was a little different when we stayed in touch in ways that were not quite so digital. We heard things like bells and horns that told us to get home...of course, there was always the "street light" rule about being home before dark. Getting the "what for" from your friends mom generally meant double was coming at home and things like a "phone tree" were the way word got around town to let you know what was going on. We grow up...we move away...life evolves and then we look back and wonder "what happened" when we go back and see what was and what's become.
It's those memories of small town America we all kind of long for and wish we could bring back. Some don't just wish, they take action and work to bring that unity back into what they once knew and work as well to not only fill the gaps, but renew the community connection with all the modern bells and whistles while focusing on keeping people...connected with people. This is the story of The Ladder Community Center in Shelby, MI.
10 years ago, Dave and Kim Beckman came back to Shelby, with the memories tucked away of what they knew growing up, and like so many other small communities, especially those which once thrived off passing traffic, now passed by a big highway...things dwindled a little. As our way of communicating went from yelling out the door to calling a cell phone...neighbors didn't talk as much and we all kind of withdrew. Shelby isn't a "bad" community by any stretch of the imagination, but the feeling of disconnect was a hole that was felt by Dave and others and it was time for something to be done.
Where to start? Well, find a spot. An old car dealership in town will do nicely after some serious clean up. Pick a mission. Of course, let's make sure that young people are able to find a safe respite with a little direction. So many young people have parents that work 2 jobs, or have to split shifts. As that grows, you hear the conversation at the donut shop...maybe expand what you offer to the "young at heart" as the older adult community often needs companionship and maybe a hand with some of the modern things in life. In the middle of it all...a cross section where one generation meets the other on occasion and a little connectivity happens. That's building community...and that, is being the change you wish to see.
Today, The Ladder is not only a gloriously refurbished center in the heart of Shelby, it's alive! Music, activity, friends, programs...food for those who need a hand. Recreation, respite and a safe harbor for the community to drop in for a little pickle ball, basketball, ping pong, cribbage...a message, a friend or maybe just a cup of coffee and a spot to sit and take it all in. It's no wonder the folks at the Double JJ thought to bring them in as a beneficiary of the Build Your Own Bobsled event coming up February 28th and 29th.
If you're coming to BYOB, please....bring some of the essentials. The Ladder could use things like household items, clear liquid hand soap, cases of bottled water, prizes for their bingo games, postage stamps and things like that. They could also use a little hand financially, things like newsletters, ground maintenance, office supplies and more add up. So, if you are coming, bring a little of that and you'll get a break on the price of your admission to the party!!
I met up with the Director of The Ladder, Brian Beckman...brother of founder Dave and he helped me fill in on the story, the history and the future...take the listen!
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It's and awesome facility and it's built and run by people who truly care about all of their community! What an amazing treat to stop in and see the work going on in a small, neighborhood community where the same needs we see elsewhere. Watching community in action isn't reserved for inner city or blighted areas, we all need to find ways to connect, serve and be there for each other and in Shelby, that is found at The Ladder!
Don't miss the fun of Build Your Own Bobsled and your chance to pitch in a little and help the folks at The Ladder! We'll see you at the Double JJ February 28th for the preparty with Yard Sale Underwear and the 29th for the Build Your Own Bobsled event!