GREENSBORO, N.C. (WGHP) — It can sometimes be hard to see the heart and soul of a community when you’ve lived there all your life.

But the way Americans voluntarily create organizations to handle society’s challenges is unique. We’ve exported the idea around the world, but it was something that, on a mass scale at least, was an American creation. The British politician Edmund Burke called it “Little Platoons.” 

Greensboro’s Patrick Theismann simply thinks of it as being a valuable member of the place in which he lives.

“I feel like if you live in a community, there is a responsibility to try and give back to that community,” said Theismann, who has been a member of the Greensboro Rotary Club since he moved to the city more than a decade ago. And giving back is exactly what the GRC is designed to do.

“We never have a meeting when we’re not talking about how to give back to the community,” Patrick said.

For Brett Weathersbee, who is not just a member of the GRC but also the current president of the Greensboro Sports Council, another valuable volunteer group in town, it’s about taking care of those things in a community that fly under the radar of a big governmental apparatus.

“When you have members that are police chiefs, the Guilford County Schools superintendent, athletic directors, it becomes a little bit easier to identify some of the needs are,” said Weathersbee of how groups like the GRC find the projects it wants to take on. “So, for example, one of the projects Greensboro Rotary is involved in is tutoring at Sumner Elementary.  Well, that’s a really, really local project that maybe…even your city government or your county – those aren’t the kind of project they get involved in.”

And they can make a huge difference in someone’s life.

Weathersbee and Theismann acknowledge there are challenges in keeping their membership up, particularly in finding new younger members to join.

“I think it is a challenge on a couple of levels,” Weathersbee said. “One, I think the pandemic was sort of a speed bump for volunteers. People got out of the habit of doing things when the world basically shut down in 2020…one of the tricks now is getting people back…even for people that are members of these organizations, they got a little out of the habit of doing the things they were doing. Attracting new members is a big piece of that.”

Theismann has a pitch ready to go, though.

“First, I’d say we’ve got a great lunch. And then I’d say ‘just come to a meeting and see what you think,’” he said. But he emphasizes that meetings aren’t mandatory. Evidently, that’s been a misconception with some younger folks who may otherwise want to join.

“We want you to go because you want to go,” Theismann said. “You want to meet people in our community…you want to hear the information that’s being provided by our speakers about civic opportunities. That’s what we’re really preaching now. That’s Rotary’s really strong message. What we want to do is let Rotary be an experience and something that you…want to contribute in.”

And many of the community’s leaders are leading by example.

“When you see attorneys, bank presidents, those people going along and picking up the streets in one of our programs called ‘The Big Sweep,’ I believe that’s the definition of that,” Theismann said.

Although the GRC still has a membership just a bit above 200, it would like to see more to ensure its future.

“I don’t know where you’d fill the need if you lost the civic organizations,” Weathersbee said.