I was raised in the Redding area and had left for over 25 years. Upon my return I was not surprised tofind the same challenges here in my hometown that I had observed across the country with crime, homelessness and addiction. It is easy to look at the surface of our community and become disheartened. I however experienced an unexpected surprise, I have had the good fortune of becoming employed with Far Northern Regional Center, an agency whose goal is to provide support to those with developmental disabilities. As a result I have been exposed to a multitude of wonderful local organizations who are a contributing force of positivity in our community. Sadly many of their contributions go unnoticed. I believe if we all took a little time to look deeper, and challenge ourselves to open our hearts a little wider the spirit of our community will shine a whole lot brighter.
It has been an exciting revelation that many of our community members who experience challenges on a daily basis due to their disabilities are choosing to step up and contribute as opposed to sitting back and “waiting for the world to change”. There is a current movement taking shape in Redding and its surrounding counties being driven by those who could easily choose to be victims but instead are actively seeking positive outlets to give in a meaningful way.
I encourage the greater community to be on the lookout for organizations like Artistic Endeavors whose patrons are knitting and crocheting tiny beanie hats and blankets for the preemies in the local NICUs. Watch for friends from Broad Horizons to ask to contribute to your organization like they are doing at the Senior Nutrition Center. When at the Relay for Life watch for team members from the Expressive Learning Center who are fund raising along with the rest of the community for others when the struggles they are facing themselves may seem to be challenge enough.
At a time when it is hard to trust others due to the increase of crime being noted on a daily basis, I ask that each of us slow down and look for the positive contributor’s right before us. I challenge our local business owners and charitable organizations to look past fear based differences and seek new team members that may be able to contribute in ways not considered before. I encourage all of us to look for one another’s gifts and help each other share them.
All of us desire to feel valued and experience a sense of belonging in our communities. Our developmentally disabled community members are out there proving that they are capable and ready to serve as valued employees, interns, volunteers and good neighbors. As they reach out to you, I hope you will reach back and benefit from the many gifts your fellow community members have to share.
Far Northern Regional Center