When you work at a newspaper, it can be easy to get discouraged about the direction in which a community is headed. We get bombarded with tragedy, politics and petty grievances. Folks in Patterson can be almost aristocratic in their possessiveness over anything that is “hometown.”
Then, every once in a while, your faith in humanity is restored. You burst with pride — that aristocratic possessiveness thing — that you live in a community with the likes of the founders of Project HOPE (Help Our People Eat).
The project was founded on a simple premise that arose from a conversation among local people who are relatively financially comfortable: Thanks to the recession, the need in our community is unusually high this year, and there’s no reason for the holiday spirit of giving to disappear simply because the calendar turned to January.
Perhaps it shouldn’t come as a surprise. Historically, in times of recession, people seem to re-evaluate and put a greater emphasis on the importance of home, family and community. When we can’t afford to buy comfort and entertainment, we find ourselves reconnecting with one another in lieu of the gadgetry that might have captured our attention before.
Though the falling home prices may be allowing some locals to finally realize the American dream, for many others, a warm coat and nutritious food will be out of reach.
Project HOPE is trying to change that, and in so doing, giving us all a bit of hope. Hope, to those who feel alone in their struggles, that there are people who will help. Hope that the summer will bring jobs and new opportunities. Hope that despite our differences, we can come together as a community to enrich the lives of all who live here.
The hope appears to be contagious. Several local groups and organizations have signed on to get involved with Project HOPE, and some are even getting creative with it. Employees with the city of Patterson, for example, are having a contest to see which department can give the most cans.
We believe that spirit will spread throughout this city. The project’s goal of collecting 20,000 cans and boxes of food is an admittedly lofty one, but we have little doubt it will be achieved.
Please give what you can to this admirable effort.
For information on how to donate, visit www.pattersonprojecthope.com.