I have always believed that the best test of friendship, is to see who is surrounding you during the worst of times.
Some might see me as a skeptic, but it’s a simple theory really.
I mean who doesn’t love a party? Who doesn’t like to help others bask in their glory and celebrate their achievements? Truth be told…that’s the easy part of friendship. It requires little effort, a bunch of positive adjectives and maybe a cocktail or two.
When life truly happens, however… and by that I mean the stuff no one likes to discuss openly, the really good tragedies like: death, illness, divorce, bankruptcy, a troubled teen or loss of a job — now that is when the cream truly rises to the top.
Since moving to this town I’ve been fortunate enough to watch it play out both professionally and personally. Case in point, fundraisers to help families in need are hardly foreign to this community. It just seems to take a flyer and a few details with a meal attached and this community responds.
People in Oakdale truly care for each other. Sure, we’ve all been hit by tougher times than what we remember of five years ago, but when it comes to supporting a neighbor people seem to flock with their checkbooks and what few dollars may be in their wallet.
I still recall the story one community member shared with me a few years back. Fundraising efforts were in place out front of a local supermarket in exchange for a car wash or hot dog (the details here are a bit fuzzy). A gentleman drove up on his bicycle, pulled out his wallet and presented the fundraising group with a ten-dollar bill.
He shared his story and how their efforts spoke to him personally, all while apologizing for the amount he could give, stating, “This is all I have.”
Bicycle, buggy or BMW, what I have come to learn about this amazing little town is that it is filled with truly good people. Oh sure, we all have our bad days and moments we may like to take back. But when it counts, when it truly matters the people of this community put aside all differences and do what is right — for the bigger picture.
Personally speaking, I have seen this play out in my life quite a bit lately. Several of our friends have been down from surgery. Like clockwork out goes the call, via Facebook or e-mail requesting help with meals for the family.
When I was growing up, this was something I witnessed with church groups or service clubs but never an actual community.
To live this life and know such people, I must admit feels like an amazing gift, in and of itself. Questions never asked, other than ‘where can I deliver my dish on Tuesday?’ People just seem to genuinely care. Amazing stuff, if you really stop and allow it into your consciousness.
When I was a very active Relay For Life Volunteer, I did a lot of traveling and met people in the ‘Relay World,’ from all over the state. Without fail they would always ask, “What is it about Oakdale? How do you guys do it?” (regarding the money raised in our town.)
Each time I would always find myself answering the same way, “People in our town just care. They truly show up and whether it’s with $5 or a check for $500, for the right cause they are always ready to open their wallets.”
Now that … is just good stuff.
Teresa Hammond is a staff reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News and The Escalon Times. She may be reached at email@example.com or by calling 847-3021.