Some gatherings are for celebration, others are meant simply to bring people together. And that’s plenty.
The Out of the Darkness community walk last Saturday started at Graceada Park and wound its way up McHenry and eventually back to the park, bringing together nearly 900 people. Many found the walk and camaraderie meaningful, some found it cathartic and others comforting. Many of the people involved were walking in remembrance of loved ones who had committed suicide. Others walked in support of those left behind. Together they raised more than $42,400, and the donations are still trickling in, said organizer Alice Quayle.
That means Quayle, who lost her son to suicide in 2009, has helped raise roughly $200,000 since the walks began in 2010.
In the past, the money was sent to the Sacramento Out of the Darkness chapter. But Quayle and the other 10 volunteers she counts on to create such events are forming their own chapter and organizing community walks here and farther south, including in Bakersfield and Fresno.
It was inspiring to see so many people gather in downtown Modesto – some carrying photos, many in matching shirts – to remember loved ones and support the many who have been left behind to grieve. It was also comforting to realize that the money being raised does more than provide comfort; it is being used in schools and in counseling to help prevent suicide. In that respect, every step taken last Saturday was so very, very important.
Sometimes, the value of such events can’t be measured in mere money: “I got one (email) in particular,” said Quayle, “and she said how much she appreciates this walk; how comforting to be with so many people who understand. Coming to this event gives her peace.”
The future is in good hands, everyone
We’re not going to spend any more time worrying about the next generation, not if the 100 or so teenagers who showed up for the American Heritage Scholarship Program presentation Tuesday are any indication. Oh, they all looked like typical teenagers – wearing T-shirts, gym shorts, jeans, caps and glasses. And typical of teens, most held tightly to a mini-computer used for studying, talking, organizing and just hanging out with friends (aka, a cellphone). But these kids were different. You could tell by the questions they asked, the answers they gave and the determination in their eyes. The Bee, Modesto City Schools and the Stanislaus County Office of Education – with help from generous sponsors – have been offering scholarships to students who write winning essays on constitutional topics for the past 13 years. This year’s topic – illuminated by Ruben Villalobos – was cellphone privacy: Adults are guaranteed it by the Supreme Court, but students are not. Knowing these are our future lawyers, police officers, doctors and educators gives us confidence in the future. And there are probably another 100 students who couldn’t attend but who can enter the contest by viewing the video of Villalobos’ talk (www.stancoe.org) and writing. The only thing we’re going to worry about is how to pick a winner from what will undoubtedly be dozens of excellent essays.
More (sort of) interesting lists
WalletHub’s marketing department has an interesting gimmick for selling credit card services: compiling lists to get our attention. This week’s looked at America’s fastest-growing cities. Guess what? We’re not at the bottom (sigh of relief), but we’re far closer to it than to the top. Modesto was No. 380 of 516 cities. In this case, being No. 1 is not all good; there are many problems from growing too fast. But there are more from not growing at all. Manteca was No. 81, but Turlock 299 and Merced 341.