I was leaving work last week when I noticed a car that seemed to be stalled at the south exit of the City Hall parking lot. I think I heard one of the city employees standing by the car say something about a need to push the vehicle, so I went over to see if I could help. I immediately noticed that the driver was an elderly woman who appeared to be having trouble coping with the situation. While one of our employees was talking with her, a couple of young men who were passing by came over and offered their help to move the car. Just as we were getting ready to push, the driver started the car but didn’t seem to know what to do now that the car was running. Cindy, who works in Municipal Court, asked the driver if she needed help and, fortunately, she acknowledged that she did. The driver was helped out of the car and taken inside to call a friend while one of our employees moved the car to a parking space.
I was impressed by how a number of strangers rallied to help someone they didn’t know and the obvious concern they had for the welfare of this one elderly woman. The two young men who originally offered to help push the car stayed until I assured them that city employees would make sure the driver got the help she needed. We often hear doubts about and criticism of younger generations, but my experience is that young people today are as good as or better than the generations that preceded them. Like all of us who were once young, they may lack experience and/or direction, but they will do the right thing more often than not.
There are many ways to be responsible or show kindness, and stepping forward to lead a committee that will explore solutions to the Police and Fire Departments’ need for new facilities may not seem to fall in the same category as helping an elderly person in distress. Commitment to many hours of study and discussion, however, is in many ways a greater sacrifice. Recently, former State Senator Frank Morse and former Linn County Sheriff Dave Burright agreed to take on this important task as volunteers who will only receive thanks from a small number of people for their efforts. The announcement of the committee’s formation was greeted with the predictable complaints of the misinformed few about how much Senator Morse and Sheriff Burright will be paid. They will, of course, be paid nothing. All who choose to serve on this committee will have their own reasons for doing so, but financial gain will not be among them. I believe most will serve because, like Sheriff Burright and Senator Morse, they care about the community where they live and they want to do the right thing. I am grateful that we live in a community where people of all ages still believe in that concept and frequently put it into practice.