Appreciate community treasures

Putting even venerable businesses and nonprofit groups on the brink or beyond, this economy is underscoring Joni Mitchell's famous observation "that you don't know what you've got till it's gone."

But some organizations just keep going and going, to their credit and the community's benefit. In the coming days, Wichita should jump at the chance to make a fuss over three such enduring assets that are celebrating important anniversaries this year.

The oldest is the Greater Wichita YMCA , which will mark its 125th anniversary with a free community open house from noon to 5 p.m. Sunday at its eight area branches. The organization, which is now working toward construction of a new downtown branch, has critics who question whether it deserves its tax-exempt status. But those who've seen kids learn sports and sportsmanship at the Y, or who've found fitness and fellowship themselves at Y branches, know that the organization's ads aren't overstating it in calling the Y "life-changing."

The Wichita Art Museum observes its 75th anniversary in 2010, an occasion noted by Mayor Carl Brewer at Tuesday's Wichita City Council meeting with a proclamation recognizing the museum as "a cornerstone of art" in Wichita and a promoter of art appreciation through its collection of 7,000 works, traveling exhibitions and programs. Events marking the milestone will include a reception honoring the peerless Roland P. Murdock Collection of American art at 2 p.m. Jan. 24, when authors Novelene Ross and Stephen Gleissner also will sign copies of their book "Wichita Art Museum: 75 Years of American Art."

The year also finds noncommercial KPTS, Channel 8 , at its 40-year mark, having first gone on the air with "Sesame Street" on Jan. 5, 1970. From its airing of singular PBS series such as "Nova" and "Antiques Roadshow" to its broadcasts of outstanding locally produced documentaries and weekly Sedgwick County Commission meetings, KPTS has become a vital regional resource for information and entertainment. KPTS will hold an anniversary celebration from 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday at Wichita Ice Center.

The severity of the local economy makes such milestones all the more remarkable. Let these occasions be a reminder to Wichitans to use, support and appreciate these and other community treasures, to ensure they'll be around for more people to enjoy for many years to come.