Water & Shoes

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Brookly Park City Council Member Wynfred Russell and Bill Ludwig, Liquor Store Manager of the City of Paynesville, Minnesota

By Bill Ludwig 

Do you ever stop and think about how lucky we are in the United States?  We are so blessed, but I do not think we realize how much.  I am not talking about “toys;” I am talking about the simple things like water and shoes.

In February, Mayor Jeff Thompson of Paynesville, Minnesota invited his city council, department heads and the Area chamber president to meet delegates from Paynesville, Liberia, including the Mayor Pam Belcher-Taylor to discuss the possibilities of rekindling a sister city relationship.

It was interesting to hear about the Liberian Paynesville.  It is their largest city with half a million residents.  While we discussed our economies, municipalities and local industries, Mayor Pam stated that 300,000 of their residents were children.  Most of these children have an extremely limited source of fresh drinking water.  While they are working on setting up ATM stations to dispense fresh water, most children get fresh water from 500m/l bags that are sold from vendors at 15 cents each.  Many of these vendors have been shut down as their water has been unsafe.   She stated that many of the wells were unsafe to drink and many children have died from results of bad water.  I sat in awe and thought of my 18-month-old granddaughter, her sippy cup is filled from our own tap water.  We never have to worry.

Mayor Belcher-Taylor went on to describe that most of their children do not even have shoes.  My wheels were starting to turn as our mayor [Thompson] asked how we could help.  She replied, “Send Shoes!” I immediately jumped in and said “I can help!!”  The chamber president chimed in and the ideas began to flow like water.

Mayors Jeff Thompson of Paynesville, Minnesota and Pam Belcher-Taylor of Paynesville, Liberia

I will never, ever forget the smiles on all the delegates’ faces!  Truly Inspiring!

After they toured our city facilities their last stop was at the Liquor Store.  I presented all the delegates with Paynesville Liquor t-shirts. They had referenced the one I was wearing several times during our meeting.  Mayor Pam and I toured the store discussing Municipal Liquor.  She loved the idea as a source of income to increase revenues for Paynesville, Liberia; she stated, “we need to check into this idea this is great.”

Our association continues to fight for Municipal Liquor and the value it brings to our communities.  We have many naysayers including a few of our own members that cannot see the true value.  Yes, the value is in the profits, but more importantly our value is in helping people.  Isn’t that what a community-based business should do?

Let us lead by example… Spread the word!

P.S. Want to help Paynesville Liberia?  Send shoes, kid’s shoes.  Mayor Pam will be back after COVID-19 Pandemic.  Our store, chamber and school will be working together to the city of Paynesville, Liberia.

Editor’s note: Bill Ludwig is the Liquor Store Manager of the City of Paynesville, Minnesota. His article first appeared in the Minnesota Municipal Beverage Association Newsletter. Printed with permission. 

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