I was so excited about moving to Arbuckle as the new ESL teacher at Johnson JHS and Pierce HS. After the Principal handed me the keys and official papers were signed, I turned to my husband and said, “We have to buy a house here. I want to be a part of the community where the students will see me at the grocery store and participate in the town activities and go to the sporting events.” We bought a house in the “Silk Stocking District.” How quaint! A neighbor explained it was one of the few original areas with sidewalks. We began to settle in.
We had a Silky Terrier named Pepper who loved his daily walks. We began to notice that the streets and parks were littered with trash. I began to grumble, “Why can’t these people pick up after themselves.” Our walks expanded further and further, and the trash seemed to be everywhere.
One day I was walking alone and began to complain again when I clearly heard Holy Spirit say, “Then why don’t you pick it up yourself?”
“Why should I? I didn’t put it there. Besides I don’t have a bag with me.”
I walked another block and there stuck on a fence was a plastic bag blowing in the breeze.
“Oh for Heaven’s sake, OK.” I got the bag and picked up trash until the bag was full and threw it away when I got home. Would you believe that after that every day I went out for my walk I found another paper bag? After about two weeks I got into the habit of taking a bag with me. Day after day I picked up trash around town.
After a couple months my attitude changed about the whole thing. Then I noticed something really strange. There wasn’t so much trash around. Then I began to see people mowing and watering their lawns. Then one house after another began to decorate their yards and paint their houses. After a couple years, there was a completely different look to the town.
My High School students needed Community Service Hours. I joined the Arbuckle Revitalization Committee and learned that many people were doing things to beautify the town, build parks, have community events, work together like a family. Wow, what a great community! I volunteered to lead the Town Cleanup before big events, and as many as 30 to 40 students would come out and canvas the town on the Saturday before the events and really clean up. They also started picking up trash on other days. After working so hard to clean up the town, they began to take greater pride in their town.
Sometimes we just need to stop complaining and do something. We’ll see that a lot of great people are doing great things, and we didn’t even realize it!
■ Loraine Joy is a small business owner and Arbuckle resident. Contact Loraine at email@example.com