This is a supportive community.
Over the past six months, I have had the opportunity to read about the philanthropic efforts of local citizens.
That includes all the efforts put forth after the November tornadoes hit Mellott and more.
One of the stories started Nov. 10, when Crawfordsville senior Darian Stewart was named the Distinguished Young Woman of Montgomery County. Stewart emphasized the importance of community service when the judges asked her what her life would look like on a billboard.
“If my life were a billboard, I would advertise something I am very passionate about: Service,” Stewart said. “It would be an advertisement encouraging young women to get involved in and give back to their community.”
Her mother, April, echoed that message, stating, “As a family, we think it is important to serve the community, our family and our friends. We are so committed to that.”
The Stewart family showed their message was the mantra of this community. Darian fronted a sprint food drive for the victims of the Mellott tornado, while area citizens and business selflessly devoted themselves to the cleanup. Fountain Central students even left classes early to help.
However, an emotional moment occurred a week ago, when the Stewart house caught fire and their dog and cat perished. Looking at his home, Jason Stewart still found a silver lining.
“We lost our dog and cat, but most importantly, my daughters are both at school and are safe,” he said. “All that stuff can be replaced. It is hard, but it can be replaced. So, you just deal with it and move forward.”
The neighbors gathered to do as much as they could for the Stewarts, and the American Red Cross attested to that, informing of how much the family’s friends have assisted them. That is an irreplaceable community spirit.
Another journey highlighting community spirit occurred Saturday, when Habitat for Humanity dedicated a home to Jimmy Haffner, who was born with cerebral palsy.
The local Habitat leaders spoke highly of the service Jimmy has provided them. Jimmy met the 200 hours required of him to get a home and kept volunteering.
“This has probably been the most remarkable journey that I have been on with Habitat,” construction coordinator Kym Bushong said. “As far as Habitat families go, Jimmy has stepped up and been the perfect family. He has reached out to the community, and a lot of what happened here is simply because Jimmy helped out. He has touched so many people.”
Jimmy’s father, Herman, also praised the Purdue University and Wabash College students who help with Habitat.
“Every weekend, there is a college student here,” he said. “Wabash’s fraternities and Alpha Phi Omega bring groups of people over, and the students from Purdue drive down and pay for their own gas. People spend days, even weeks at a time to help build houses.”
These are only a couple of many stories demonstrating this community’s spirit and support.
I have been fortunate to experience the community’s support in the past week. Last Monday, I took over as a full-time reporter, meaning I started covering city government meetings. Everyone I talked to from city government, the Crawfordsville Police Department, Crawfordsville Fire Department, Crawfordsville School Board and Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office has made my transition from night editor to reporter much easier. I asked many questions in the past week, and everyone understood that is part of learning and answered without hesitation.
I thank everyone in this large community for their assistance. Service drew me to this area when I was an intern at the Journal Review two summers ago, and having the opportunity to write some of these philanthropic stories has made this job a blessing.
Thank you, and do not be afraid to say hello. Have a wonderful week, stay warm and be safe on the roads.
John Dykstra a reporter at the Journal Review. His column appears on Tuesdays.