After nearly a half century of community involvement, the Wellesley Board of Trade says it is struggling to maintain attendance numbers and local interest. Only about 10 members showed up for their May 9 meeting when they were to elect their new executive, casting fears that this may be the last group to lead the board.
Over the past several years membership has steadily declined, as has participation in the monthly meetings and volunteer efforts to help support the many events and activities that the board delivers to the community, according to the group’s new president.
“There are a number of things that would stop, and who’s going to pick them up?” asked Chris Franklin, owner of the Futher-Franklin Funeral Home in Wellesley.Every year the Board of Trade nominates the Citizen of the Year, holds the Valentine’s Day Ball, hangs the seasonal lights on the hydro poles, maintains the island and many of the gardens within the village, they organize the soapbox derby race on Labour Day weekend, and host the very popular sausage and pancake breakfast at the Apple Butter and Cheese Festival in September.
After the board received zero nominations for the position of president this year, Franklin volunteered for the position because he didn’t want to see the board dissolve, along with all the positive contributions it makes to the community. Its events not only help support the community, but help local businesses through promotion and networking opportunities.
Franklin was voted into the position unanimously by those present at the meeting.
A number of factors are likely contributing to their decline, said Franklin, a member of the Board of Trade for the past three years. He and other members believe that younger parents in the village are often so busy with their children, their families, and other extracurricular activities that they simply don’t have time to attend their monthly meetings, which start at 7 p.m.
He also said that as the community has grown over the years, many residents take advantage of the events held by the Board of Trade but perhaps fail to understand who exactly is responsible for them each year.
To help remedy that problem they have begun a self-promotion blitz and advertising campaign to spread the word about who the group is and what they offer the citizens of Wellesley and the surrounding area.
Another issue is the aging demographic of the members; at 48 years old, Franklin said he is one of if not the youngest member, and they need to attract a younger core of participants.
Franklin said that they cannot let the group fold, even for one year, if they want to ensure its long-term survival.
“If it folds it would be a lot harder to get it started again than it is to find new members. People will find other things to do,” he said.
For more information on the Wellesley Board of Trade, visit http://wellesleyboardoftrade.com/ or contact Chris Franklin, firstname.lastname@example.org.