There’s an old Fred Rogers quote that I love.
“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news,” he said, “My mother would always say to me: ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’”
It’s a good motto to keep handy, especially, as we wrap up 2015 surrounded by some pretty horrifying stuff: mass shootings, terrorism, racism, a warming planet, and Donald Trump.
Sometimes it’s hard to see the good when we’re bombarded by all the bad. But it’s there. Here in our own community, there are people and stories that inspire and unite us, every day.
So, in case you need to restore your faith in humanity this holiday, here’s some really good stuff (in no particular order) that happened this year in Sarnia-Lambton:
1 – The massive community response to a fire at the Kenwick apartment building in Sarnia was described as “pure gold” by residents who were rescued, accommodated and cared for in the aftermath of the Nov. 22 blaze.
2 – Eleven-year-old Ethan Robinson had a birthday party and asked everyone to waive the presents and donate to the Sarnia Hockey Association’s Adopt-A-Player program, which helps pay the $540 registration cost to play house league if a family is struggling financially.
3 – Generous residents helped push Sarnia-Lambton into first place in Canada, and second place in the world, for total meals collected at the fourth annual CANstruction event in March.
4 – Voter turnout in Sarnia-Lambton for October’s federal election was up nearly 10% from 2011. That’s an increase of more than 8,500 who cast their ballots.
5 – The Lambton Shrine Club made the largest one-time donation in its 80-year history, thanks to the late Kathleen Gardiner, who donated half of her $1.9 million fortune. The bequest was made on the condition that the 138 members of the Lambton club spend the money on the Shriners Hospital for Children in Montreal.
6 – A hearse driver from Smith Funeral Home wrote a letter to the editor noting how impressed he is with Sarnia drivers and their respect for passing funeral processions. Apparently, what comes as second nature to local motorists isn’t commonplace everywhere else, said the driver, who often hears from out-of-towners, “This would never happen where we live.”
7 – Noelle’s gift officially became a registered charity in 2015. To date, the charity — named in honour of a beloved Sarnia teacher who was killed in 2013 — has raised more than half a million dollars to support students in Sarnia-Lambton.
8 – When an eight-year-old boy went missing in July, police used a pioneering new alert system called MY CNN (Community Notification Network), which rapidly called 47,054 numbers to request community assistance. That alert helped galvanize a community search and the boy was found unharmed. Registration with the MY CNN skyrocketed after the incident.
9 – Organizers of Sarnia’s new 100 Women Who Care chapter were overjoyed to see some 70 women (and counting) sign on for the charity that invites participants to meet quarterly, pledge $100 and vote on a deserving charity. After just one meeting, $7,000 was handed over to Habitat for Humanity, and the January meeting is on track to reach the 100 women milestone.
10 – Efforts to bring Syrian refugees to Sarnia are well underway by numerous groups, and organizers say the community response has been overwhelming. “It speaks volumes,” said Art deGroot. “There’s a lot of fear mongering, but there’s a lot of generosity and open arms, too.”