I’m beginning to sound a bit like a broken record.
Events of this past summer, more specifically the past week however, have helped me see – some things cannot be helped. That’s the beauty of the “front line” as I like to call it. The vantage point of the small town paper and the privilege of being a community member.
The fact however still remains, this town and its generosity amaze me.
Social media leaves me with mixed emotions. I’ve shared a bit about that in past pieces. The disconnect, the reliance of the forum to stay in contact with one another. That being said, it is a valuable tool for reaching a mass of people with minimal effort.
I was able to watch that unfold by way of the Oakdale Community Closet this summer, as Cher Bairos just simply looked for a way to share some outgrown clothing from her two children. A simple, would anyone be interested in a clothes swap event post, quickly blew up.
By the time I met with Bairos for our first story it had grown from a swap to a donation/giveaway with no strings attached. Last week she had a total of 150 volunteers (of all ages) help with the organization and execution of this first time event. A total of two storage units full of clothes found their way to new homes last Saturday.
There were no strings attached, no fee, no qualifying as a person of “need,” just pretty cut and dry ... simple. You have kids, you need some clothes, come check out what we have.
The night before Bairos’ event, I found myself at the Oakdale Chamber Concert in the Park listening to a few musicians I haven’t had the pleasure of hearing in quite some time. Midway through their set, band member Greg Rivera spoke to the audience about a local tragedy that had happened earlier in the week.
The tragic death by car accident of Giselle and Hector Evangelista found the whole community a bit numb last week, as we tried to make sense of it all.
Rivera admitted to not knowing the Evangelista family, yet he knew of Oakdale’s generosity and it just felt like the right thing to do. That being said, the band continued to play and two buckets circulated collecting donations for the family. A total of over $1,100 was collected that night.
I’d be remiss if I did not equally recognize the band I was listening to that night were the past bandmates of Heidi Brunk on the 10th anniversary of her passing. Much to the delight of all in attendance, The Heidi Brunk Band played for over three hours.
That’s another thing which makes this town special, good people do not go forgotten. Heidi Brunk was one such person and on Friday night the beauty of her smile and kindness of her soul were rightfully remembered by some of her very best friends. And just as when we all watched her perform years ago as community members, the town was once again the beneficiary of this good fortune.
Waking up Sunday morning and reflecting back/looking ahead, I could not help but be proud of the place I have chosen to call home for my children. This town is truly something special. Some like to think it’s due to size, maybe; but I think it’s more than that.
This town has close to doubled in size, since I unpacked my first box as I settled into my first Oakdale home. Yet, the spirit, kindness and generosity remains. That’s the beauty of being on the “front line” of this town. It is a place in which the generosity is not just celebrated but embraced and continued.
This is not a place of what can you do for me, but rather a place of let’s help our neighbor. That’s what makes me most proud of this community and the people who call it home. We don’t have to know you to understand heartache, sadness, hardship or need.
In the end it’s just as simple as Rivera said on Friday night, it’s just Oakdale generosity, there’s just no other way.
Teresa Hammond is a staff reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News and The Escalon Times. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 847-3021.