WHEN SOMEONE mentions Main Street, what comes to mind? Is it Mayberry? A trip to any small town, exploring new sights, shops, and stores? Or does Fayetteville’s central business district come to mind?
Thanks to the ongoing work of Fayetteville Main Street (FMS), you probably pictured the square with shoppers strolling the sidewalks with bags in their arms, stopping to say hello to neighbors, and exchanging handshakes or hugs. Or maybe it was one of our seasonal festivals with food trucks, vendors, contests, live music, and special activities.
No matter what comes to mind, Fayetteville Main Street is tirelessly working behind the scenes to build and support downtown businesses and further strengthen and connect the community. FMS invests in tomorrow by involving area youth today in their FMS Youth Leaders Council.
The youth program began in 2008 and is made up of high school seniors from three local high schools. They meet on the third Thursday of each month, exploring a different theme at each meeting. They do much more than assist FMS with their events, downtown activities, and fundraisers. These students discover much of what is involved in maintaining a thriving downtown business district and learn firsthand about local nonprofit organizations and ways to support their community.
The 2022-23 council wrapped up its session and left a lasting impression on participating students. The recent council members were Abby Honey, Andrew Himmelman, Briona Hill, Charis Gilliam, Garrison Tucker, Caleb Pierce, Jessica McWhirter, Marlee Smith, McKinley Mann, Molley Frame, Myla Louden, Niki Tunstill, and Keyaira Shutt.
Aimee Byrd, FMS executive director, said, “I want them to come back here — not just because their parents or friends are here, but because they appreciate Fayetteville and feel like home is more than just their house. My hope is for them to feel like home is our downtown square, and they feel comfortable in the businesses and with the leaders of the community. I want them to feel motivated to have a conversation or recognize business owners and community leaders.”
FMS grants an annual scholarship to a youth council member, and they also awarded scholarships to two 2022-23 board members: Garrison Tucker and Caleb Pierce.
Caleb said he’d gained a sense of respect by learning how the Main Street office, along with local businesses, work together to provide shared experiences through festivals, First Saturday, Government Day, and other events for the benefit of the community as well as for the enrichment of the town’s culture.
His mom, Becca Jeans, said, “I’m proud Caleb’s on the Main Street board. It gives him an opportunity to interact with leaders and business owners within our community while simultaneously learning about the history of our beautiful town.”
Tucker echoes Pierce’s appreciation for youth council membership.
“I wanted to be on the youth leaders council because it makes me feel I have an opinion on what happens in our community. I love getting the chance to learn more about Fayetteville and its culture,” he said.
Today’s students are tomorrow’s leaders, business owners, and essential links in the community’s chain of success.
Thank you, FMS, for your investment in a better Fayetteville for everyone! GN