Commentary: Volunteers helped with new Ellendale water district

I was most pleased to see the recent article by Jennifer Antonik on the approval of Ellendale’s CPCN for a new, much-needed water district. It has been my honor and my privilege to work with the very dedicated volunteer group that spearheaded each of the referenda that led up to this finally successful effort — Ellendale Civic and Community Improvement Association (ECCIA). While the district will be owned by the county, the efforts of ECCIA, its leadership and members have led directly to this milestone approval.

As the article stated, ECCIA was started by Mr. Harold Truxon who served as its president for many years before retiring. He was succeeded most ably by Mrs. Delores Price, who had been mayor of Ellendale when the first referendum failed in 2011 (rather than 2009 as stated.) Had it not been for Mrs. Price’s leadership and the dedication of the volunteers of ECCIA who genuinely care, and want to make a difference for the Ellendale area, both in and out of town, the 2018 referendum probably wouldn’t have even been held, let alone successful.

Volunteers from ECCIA, with help from SERCAP, went door-to-door providing free water sampling to residences in the affected areas before the 2017 referendum. They again went door-to-door to provide accurate information on the issues involved in the 2018 referendum and the importance of voting regardless of one’s position on those issues. These volunteers have spent untold hours, without recompense, and often spending money from their own pockets, in order to advocate for positive change in the Ellendale area, starting with establishing the water district under county ownership.

I had the good fortune to meet Mrs. Price in my previous job with Delaware Rural Water Association when she was mayor of Ellendale and was one of many who assisted her in the efforts for the first referendum in 2011. It has been my privilege to be even more involved with Mrs. Price and ECCIA since taking this position in 2016.

Our SERCAP staff of three are committed to helping ECCIA in advocating for clean water, better housing and the general betterment of Ellendale and its surrounding area. The volunteers of ECCIA are not only an inspiration for us, but they have been an example to the other communities with whom we work.

We have used Ellendale as a case study in several of our organization’s annual reports and summaries of activities for our funders, which include USDA, EPA and HHS. We use these case studies because ECCIA and Ellendale are prime examples of the importance of showing up and speaking up when it comes to the needs of under-resourced communities and neighborhoods.

The tenacity of the ECCIA volunteers and their absolute refusal to accept “No” as an answer has resulted in a project that will contribute to better health, safety and morale for a neighborhood that has been out-of-sight, out-of-mind for far too long. The provision of water can open doors to better housing, better roads, better overall quality of life for residents that can snowball into more of the same for the surrounding areas.

Without the dedication and commitment of the members of ECCIA, these things would have been a lot longer in coming, if at all. No matter how much assistance from SERCAP or other organizations like ours, the lion’s share of the credit undoubtedly belongs to the good folks of ECCIA.

Jean S. Holloway is state manager for the Southeast Rural Community Assistance Project, Inc. in Frankford.

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