01PubPenI am encouraged by our young people today. I know we don’t hear much about the good things they do. In fact, we hear way too much about the negative things attributed to them. 

But look around. Here in Fayetteville there is a rising tide of inspiring young men and women willing to face the challenges, responsibilities and leadership opportunities that adulthood has promised. 

What young people need most now is willing mentors and much encouragement. Recently, I addressed a group of Fayetteville’s Young Professionals at their monthly professional development luncheon. I’ll admit, I’m not usually the nervous type when it comes to public speaking, but this group made me quiver. They would be looking at me as if I were their father — or even worse, their grandfather. 

I panicked. It was sheer desperation that drove me to Rocket Fizz Soda Pop and Candy Shop (a fun retro candy and novelty store). 

Once there, I consulted with owner Ann Sims. Being sympathetic to my cause, she readily assembled a rare assortment of retro candies that were older than I am: Necco Wafers, Mary Janes, Sugar Babies, Goo Goo Bars and more. It was a confectionery “blast from the past.” 

I used the candy to make a point with this impressive group of young professionals. I asked them what they thought a successful and rewarding career would have in common with these popular candies that have survived five decades. 

They were stumped! The answer is simple: Good things last! 

I assured them that they, and they alone, are the architects of their future successes, and like the basket filled with candy, “good things last.” The message was received well. These young people get it! 

Expect their involvement in future business, civic and governmental issues affecting their lives and the Fayetteville community. Don’t think for one moment these young people are disengaged. 

They have vision and goals. They want the good life. They want clean and safe communities, and most of all they want to see real leadership in action — leadership that demonstrates vision and produces measurable and tangible results. 

Young people are not impressed with terms like “revenue neutral” when taxes and fees continue to increase, the unemployment rate hovers at 6 percent and our county population is dwindling. 

Here’s a warning to the old guard of our city and county: Don’t think you are going to shore up your old-school political ranks by using naive, enthusiastic young professionals. These upstarts have independent thoughts, dreams and aspirations of their own. More importantly, they have no political baggage and a determination to make a difference. How refreshing!

Keep your eyes on this aggressive and talented group of young people. Like all good things, they’ll be around for a long time. 

Photo: Learn more about Fayetteville Young Professionals by visiting www.fayyp.org.

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