Be gone rain!
Another day of one step forward, one mudslide back. I am not directly affected and even I am exhausted by it. But, as always, this area walks it’s tight rope of losing it’s mind and giving it’s heart.I love my community. Several months back, Forbes rated Utica/Rome, the cities that connect all these other areas, one of the most “miserable” cities. It offended me then and this is why.This area has known a lot of hardship. It was essentially left to figure things out when the state swapped out our military base for prisons. It lost so many businesses that relied on that base and the airport that was with it. It did not feel the dramatic effects of the economic downturn in 2008 because it never had the benefits during the good days. That was an interesting blessing. What it did do was welcome refugees. As a second or third stop for many, Utica has welcomed people from all over. Sometimes it has hurt us, like when we weren’t reimbursed by the state for our educational system. Because according to the education report I found, The Mohawk Valley Resource Center for Refugees is in Utica and serves the fourth largest immigration population in the nation. About 12 percent of the city’s residents come from more than 30 foreign countries, and 31 different languages are spoken in the public schools. according to 2006 report http://www.mvrcr.org/. But the state has been slow moving to recognize what these challenges mean. We are already reaping the rewards of our hospitality though as many immigrant families revitalize otherwise abandoned areas of the city.
In addition, it hosts the Americas Greatest Heart Run and Walk where it always raises over $1M. That is in February, when it really can be miserable here. In October it hosts the Children’s Miracle Network telethon which was started to answer a need in our hospitals. In July, we host The Boilermaker Road Race which is an event that is all about joy! We host runners from all over the world and put on our Sunday best and show our hospitality. What the runners enjoy most, which is said again and again, are the crowds. And we love the runners…our own and those who come in for the day. When the Marathon bombings took place, our city felt it keenly, understanding what the marathon means in the hearts of Bostonians. So we raised funds.We do all of this and so much more on a much lesser living wage than most places. We have four seasons, sometimes in one day. We have a drug/gang issue but we still welcome people. So one might understand if we occasionally seem miserable.But the side I try to see are the people who are doing the work to make things right. The various faiths that work together to take care of an inner-city issue. The people that no matter where they live who try to step up when needed. These past few days I have seen that familiar spirit, the one that is embedded in our psyche. Help your neighbor. I have been following Facebook pages from all around the affected area…every need it trying to be tended. Shelters, food, (we are very big on food here!), essentials, animals and even free showers or shampoo’s are being offered and made available. If someone has a need, someone else finds a way to take care of it.That doesn’t seem miserable to me. When you live here, some one will always try to look out for you. Are we moody? Sure! Did you not read the four seasons in one day line?? That was not an exaggeration. But we are also generous and willing. The irony here is that a couple months later another publication named us one of the best places to raise kids. Good thing we don’t put too much stock in other people’s opinions! Please continue to pray for the many who are affected.
Be gone rain!