The following editorial appeared in the Register-Herald, Beckley, on July 29:
Despite its many problems, West Virginia really has a lot going for it — its natural scenic beauty, a wealth of natural resources and people who dearly love their state.
Unfortunately, too many are forced by economic forces to leave West Virginia’s comforting hills and hollows, towns and villages, to find work.
Many of those who are trying to solve the state’s problems have been chipping away at them for a long time. They know we need to diversify our economy and help get potential workers educated in the ways that will help them find jobs in today’s world.
It’s time the younger generation steps up to help by bringing in new energy, fresh ideas.
Young men and women in Fayette and Raleigh counties will have that opportunity by joining Generation New River Gorge. Organized under the auspices of Generation West Virginia, GenNRG’s aim is to establish a network of young professionals aged 18-45 to serve as a source of action and innovation for the New River Gorge region.
On its website, generationwv.org, the parent group says it represents the current and future generation of young leaders who want to contribute to our state’s present and future success with energy, ideas, collaboration, and most importantly, action.
We find that too often, today’s younger generation are reluctant to join in group activities. Witness the decline in membership in veterans groups, civic organizations and other activities.
We published a story just last week in which organizers of John Henry Days in Talcott say the event might not survive past this year’s without an infusion of young blood.
The reasons for this new generation of non-joiners can be as varied as the people themselves. Some might claim they are too busy with work, kids, school and other activities.
Some may not want to deal with what they consider the “old-fashioned” notions of existing organizations and their mature membership.
Mostly we believe the reluctance is rooted in the societal changes that have taken place over the last 10 to 20 years. Many find their “community” online where it is easy to find like-minded people. They have grown up differently than older generations. They have more choices.
In a 2013 study reported in Philanthropy Daily, researchers said that young people now value causes over specific organizations; that today’s generation sees a problem first and then looks for a way to solve it.
If that is the case, we believe this age group can find its cause with GenNRG. Through its work they could find themselves being the ones to solve the issues that hold West Virginia back.
Among the initiatives that the group will engage in are education, civic engagement, professional development, arts and culture and health.
It’s also a great opportunity to network with other professionals. If you need more information, check out Facebook/GenNRG or email nrggenerationwv.org
It will only be through the engagement of all ages of West Virginians that we will make it through these difficult times.
In that spirit, we are appealing to those in the noted age group to give GenNRG a look-see. Its first gathering will be held Aug. 6 from 6 to 8 p.m. at Dobra Zupas in Beckley.