Bethel has certainly seen more than the usual amount of violent weather over the past year. Incredibly, the third major storm in only fourteen months has again left our residents in the cold and dark without power, hot food, a way to get to work or school classes for their children. Even worse, some of our residents suffered damage to their businesses and homes, some severe enough that it will take many months before they are completely back to normal. These challenges have given me the opportunity to reflect on the strength and generosity of the people of this community, and how grateful I am for their dedication to our town.
That dedication begins right here with our town hall staff. Even before the hurricane arrived, our staff had all the supplies and equipment in place, ready to help people who might become homeless. As it became clear that we would again need to activate the Red Cross emergency shelter, many staff members appeared at town hall well before dawn and stayed as late in the evening as necessary to assist the CERT and Red Cross Volunteers. They literally turned our municipal center into a temporary home, where people could get some work done, have a hot shower, let their children play and have a hot meal.
I am grateful for the Bethel citizens who volunteered to help operate the shelte. Beginning with our CERT corps (Citizens Emergency Response Team), these here for every emergency, no matter how often they have to be here or how long it takes to get the town back on its feet. They are truly some of the most dedicated people I have ever met.
I am also grateful for the generosity of our residents, who came down to the shelter to spend a few hours to assist when they could, and for those who took friends and neighbors into their own homes to help.
But the strength of this community does not begin and end with bad weather; it’s a full-time, year round blessing. From Brotherhood in Action’s food drives, to the Scotty Fund and all it does to help families and to the many other fund raising drives that have been organized over the years, this is a community that cares deeply for its members and demonstrates it at every opportunity.
For me, personally, I am thankful for the privilege and the opportunity our residents havegiven me to serve this amazing community. It is truly the best job I’ve ever had.
I wish everyone a wonderful Thanksgiving.
- Matt Knickerbocker