A holiday picture renewed faithin our compassionate community
It was a welcome reminder, that front page picture in last Wednesday’s Daily Sentinel, of how grateful we should all be, not just during the holiday season but year-round, to live in a caring community.
In the photograph, Herb Bacon was shaking Pat Gormley’s hand, congratulating Pat on being honored for his lifelong support of St. Mary’s Hospital.
Quite frankly, it came at a time when I needed that reminder — when the holiday spirit related in my column last week had faded a bit.
I’d just responded to an email about that column from a high school classmate, one I hear from occasionally and whose politics are most assuredly a bit to the right of my own. Somehow my mention of passing along $100 from the Grand Junction Lions Club’s annual Random Acts of Kindness program had seemed worthy of a negative response. Another reader had also worked hard to detect possible political overtones in my mention of “reverse angel” parking as depicted in the annual Christmas card from Ciavonne, Roberts and Associates.
There’d also been emails from a couple of Democrats running for Congress who saw nothing wrong with co-opting the holidays for fundraising purposes: Sal Pace implying that Santa wanted me to donate to his campaign and Brandon Shaffer using his kids as messengers.
At another address accessible via The Daily Sentinel’s web site, a conservative blogger who was once a colleague on the Grand Junction City Council posted supposed holiday greetings from both sides of the political aisle, assigning a disparaging “politically correct” version to Democrats and ascribing only to Republicans the greeting with which I’d closed last week’s column.
Just as I was feeling buried in lumps of coal, that one picture in last Wednesday’s paper renewed the spirit of the season.
Visible over Pat’s shoulder were several folks whose names would be familiar, people who’ve also demonstrated, financially and via personal efforts, their commitment to making our community a better place. I’ve known Herb and Pat and many of those folks long enough to know they’d be uncomfortable with much public acknowledgement of their giving of time and treasure.
Worthy of recognition is the example they set that encourages us all, whatever our means and abilities, to share in their commitment, to give what we can to improve our collective well-being and the individual lives of those who need help.
That happens in many ways here, and not just during the holiday season.
Churches open their doors to offer overnight respite to the homeless who overwhelm the usual shelters when weather gets tough. People of all faiths volunteer at Catholic Outreach and also support the Salvation Army, Goodwill and other organizations. Giving to United Way remains strong, even during hard economic times. Citizens volunteer their time to help District 51 sort out financial difficulties and also assist in classrooms all over the district.
Thank God for the folks who can add a few more zeros to the amount of their contributions than many of the rest of us can afford. They provide the inspiration and impetus to make important things happen.
They’d also be the first to tell you it doesn’t take a lot of zeros, that the buck or two in those red Salvation Army buckets, the smaller individual monthly gifts, the labor and love provided unseen and unrewarded, the continuing efforts over time, are just as important.
The second-hand household goods and other gifts piled in Steve Stewart’s noisy diesel truck as I looked in the window while leaving Main Street Bagels last Monday morning were undoubtedly a big deal to the family left homeless by a fire a week or so ago. Just as important, he was taking time away from his business and joining some fellow Lions in a personal effort to get that family back on its feet, to do more than relay a $100 bill. Other service clubs make similar efforts, some recognized and some anonymous.
It wasn’t the most charitable of responses I fired back to my high school classmate last Wednesday in response to his comment. For that, I apologize. And I thank him, Sal, Gene and others — and especially Herb and Pat and Steve — for the reminder that we’re all blessed to be part of a community that realizes we’re all in this together, regardless of politics and ideology and season.
Happy New Year!