I truly believe all people are extremely valuable and significant. I left Philadelphia in the 1960’s at a very young age. My grandmother decided to uproot us and move to New Jersey. Her courage to leave the city and venture to the unknown world of rural Southern New Jersey was a step of faith. I grow up with love and boundaries. As children we easily adapted to our new home. Many people in our family were instrumental in the shaping of my character. My entire family and new community impacted my life. The men in my family taught me to respect and honor other people. My neighbors allowed me to work for them, so I could learn the value of earning an income through hard work. I was a young entrepeneur! I learned to use my God given athletic abilities, pretending to be Dr. J, Mike Schmidt or Roberto Clemente. Climbing trees, kickball and eating crabs was a great event. I loved to watch the Brady Bunch, Three Stooges and Get Smart. Playing outside all day long, until the street lights came on was awesome. Sometimes a old dirt hill was enough for us and we enjoyed a game of “King of the Mountain”. Sometimes we would ride through Jersey and stop to pick peaches. My grandmother would take me to church, so I learned to respect God. All these things have left an indeliable mark on my being. The simple things are so important. Being involved with our children and those in our communities. Loving and forgiving them through their difficulties and struggles, as well as forgiving ourselves when we miss the mark. A kind word and smile really go a long way. Now after serving 20 years in the military and being all over the world, I believe we as a people all desire many of the same basic things. I choose to be a good provider, protector and example to my family and community. Those shaping years in the development of my childhood has inspired me to be a more loving person. I do thank God for giving me people who took the time to love me then and now. I believe this is something every person needs. They may not be in our house, but they are in our neighborhood. Please don’t shut down their dreams, but inspire them to pursue and guide them to what is best for their purpose, not ours. I believe we can take more time to reflect on what is really important in life. Many of the people in my neighborhood have passed on now, yet in me remains all the wonderful memories of my childhood in little Erial, N.J. Let us share this gift of love to those we have in our daily lives and in our communities. This I believe!
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