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Small gestures lead to big gains when you are part of your community

Community is a big word that doesn’t really get the respect in the news world.

The ladies aid planted three maple crescent trees outside of the Barneys River Presbyterian Church in honour of the officers, with local RCMP and clergy taking part in the blessing ceremony. In attendance were Pictou County RCMP Staff Sgt. Steve Halliday, RCMP chaplain Glen Matheson, positioned at the end of the left side row; Rev. Dr. Ken MacLeod of  Barneys River Presbyterian Church, positioned left of the right row, and Sgt. Kevin Dunlevy of the Pictou County District RCMP,  second from the left on right row. 

Often the importance of it is overshadowed by world events, late-breaking headlines or the latest sports win.

It took Sam McNeil, a 14-year-old Northumberland Regional High School student who was job-shadowing me this week, to remind me of the importance of community.

To her credit, she was probably one of the most enthusiastic young people who has ever job-shadowed us. She asked questions, took photos and ended the day writing her own news story on her experience.

But she also forced me to take a closer look at my own job and how I do it. Everyone has their dull moments when they tread through their routines, but when you are trying to make a good impression on a young student, you had better put your best foot forward.

We hit as many different assignments as we could, which included court, filler pictures, and community events, exposing her to every element of the job.

At the end of the day she was satisfied and I was exhausted, but both of us were fulfilled. She reminded me that this type of work can be exciting and rewarding because you are involved in your community and that it needs a voice as well.

In this job, it’s easy to focus on the negative. Those are usually the stories that get the most comments on our website, the stories that often lead to a second story or third and they involve people who are passionate about their cause.

But what about the days when you have a good conversation with someone over their historic war memorabilia collection or stop and take a fill shot of town crews and chat to them about flushing hydrants? These are probably only going to be small parts of your day, but maybe the most rewarding.

On Thursday, as I was driving to Kenzieville, I wished Sam was with me. I was driving a half-hour to cover a 10-minute tree recognition ceremony by the Barneys River Ladies Aid in honour of the fallen RCMP officers in Moncton.

It was never going to be a big news story, but it was important to Reta Robertson and the others in the church who made the effort to recognize these officers and show their support to the RCMP.

Three red crescent maple trees lined the driveway leading up to Barneys River Presbyterian in Kenzieville and the members of the ladies aid shyly stood nearby as RCMP Chaplain Glen Matheson, along with Pictou County RCMP officers Sgt. Steve Halliday and Sgt. Dunlevy said thank you for the gift.

“This is huge for you as a community and myself,” said Matheson. “I worked with you guys for a lot of years. It doesn’t surprise me that they have done this.”

A similar sense of community pride was felt last weekend at the Northumberland Veterans Unit when the Thistle Quilting Guild presented veterans with 24 handmade quilts.

Following both the tree and quilt ceremony, lunch and refreshments were served while people mingled and smiled, reminding each other that good things don’t have to come by way of big gestures.

On Thursday evening, I attended the 98th birthday of Jean Ross of Stellarton who was smiling from ear to ear with the attention she was getting from friends and caregivers. She was happy to be loved and remembered by so many people during an age when the word “too busy” is used over and over again.

In two weeks’ time, the Pictou County Christmas Fund will be holding its 40th anniversary show on Nov. 23, and there are few bigger community events than this. It encompasses all things community from the volunteers, donations and spirit of helping those in need. 

But maybe the most important community event of all is the public gathering at cenotaphs each November 11.

Like the church suppers, craft fairs and birthday celebrations, these services bring people together because they care about something and each other.

Take your children, parents, friends and anyone else you can find. Stand quietly and think about the sacrifices made by not only the veterans who served, but also by the communities that held things together at home during these turbulent times. It is in times of adversity that we draw strength from our community.

Similar to the old Uncle Sam war posters during the war that stated, “I Want You,” your community is calling out loud and clear, but where and how you choose to serve is up to you.

Whether your commitment is large or small, whether it’s attending a supper or making a donation to local charity, the impression you are leaving is huge.


- Sueann Musick is the community editor/reporter with the The News. 

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