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Empire of M

Sunnyside has character

Moving into the third month of the Sunnyside Has Character Initiative, I am pleased to see some local businesses really take up the cause.

This initiative, spearheaded by Sunnyside High School, has been picked up by several community organizations and businesses. It emphasizes a different positive character trait each month and aims to develop a community wide discussion on the trait.

I could not help but notice that Community Dental along Lincoln Avenue has recognized the initiative on their electronic sign. Every time I see it, I smile.

April is all about responsibility, so here I am, adding my voice - um, okay, words to the mix.

There are several things people own. We own ourselves, our actions, cars and houses, and other material things. And those things we own, we tend to want to take care of - it's a responsibility.

But one thing I see people not being responsible for is something we all own together - our community.

When people complain about Sunnyside, I see a lot of finger pointing. Blame is placed on every imaginable group - the city, the police, the different races and religions, the schools, the business owners.

Everyone has a theory as to how Sunnyside got to this point, but no one is taking responsibility. No one wants to step up and say, 'We made a mistake and we want to fix it.'

You want to know why? Because out of all those groups, few people point to the real culprit...

Us.

Good communities don't come ready made; they are built through a combined effort. The more people who look at Sunnyside's problems and say, "That's not my responsibility," the more this community will suffer.

We own our community and it is high time we began to treat it like we do.

I'm not talking about throwing money at it, though no one will lie and say that doesn't help in some circumstances. I'm talking about putting time into it - the same time we put into caring for our cars, our homes and our selves.

It's time to shop in locally owned businesses and use locally grown goods. It's time to walk downtown, if even just for the exercise, and meet our neighbors.

Join a club or fitness group. Why not try the Latin Dance Class at the Community Center and meet some new friends.

Mentor a student. Everyone has something of value to give a youth, even if it's just their time.

Support local events. Cinco de Mayo is coming up and Fourth of July weekend will follow soon after. Take the kids or grandkids and enjoy these affairs together as a family.

When the people of Sunnyside start seeing that it is their responsibility to treat Sunnyside like a great community, it will become one.

It may still be plagued by problems, but criminal and despondent elements behind Sunnyside's problems will begin to see that there is a whole community of people who love this city, are proud of this city and will take responsibility for it.

For more information on the Sunnyside Has Character Initiative, visit sunnysidehascharacter.com and become a part of the discussion.

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