By Stanley Campbell
These are some of the things I would like to do next year. These are NOT resolutions; more like gentle reminders, suggestions or wishes.
1. Host a film festival—I’d like to help host a film festival. And I might get my wish. The Rockford Interfaith Council, looking for ways to share the good news of so many different faiths in our community, is thinking of hosting a religious film festival. I am not that familiar with movies about religious faiths, but I hope to soon find out. Also, the BlackHawk Sierra Club may cosponsor a “Food Film Fest” (alliteration always appeals to me). If you have suggestions for either fests (or feasts if we do the food film fest), then please send them to me.
2. Increase local aid to veterans—When Rockford Urban Ministries (for which I work) hosted a program about “The Needs of the Veteran,” more than half the people who showed were either veterans or family members seeking help. As a vet who was well received upon my return from Vietnam, I want to help anyone returning to Rockford find what they need. A friend wants to provide a guitar to any vet who wants one. Whether a hearty “welcome home,” or a job, or counseling, we should be able to give to those we asked to serve. Anyone else?
3. Self-publish or die—I’ve been writing these columns for 10 years, and wonder if there’s any support in my publishing some of my better pieces. Maybe because I turned 60 this last year, I’ve been thinking that I’d like to leave a more permanent statement. I watch my friend and mentor Tom Lichtenheld get published. He started by writing a hilarious children’s book, Everything I Know About Pirates, which won some awards and encouraged him to quit his day job. Tom now publishes two or three children’s books a year, and I know my missives have about as much interest as, well, definitely not much. Would anyone like to see the better columns out in book form? So could you send me a note through this newspaper if you think you’d purchase (or pick up from a library) a book of some of the better editorials I’ve written?
4. Do something for the betterment of the community—It might seem trite to say, but if you have an idea to make this a better place, please proceed! By all means, try to find friends, neighbors or complete strangers who might want to put your ideas to work. Or, even better (and easier), join a group that is already doing something good.
This area is in need of many things. But in those needs, there are seeds of groups or people that are already working to fulfill those needs. We have a community that does some marvelous things. And the good thing is, most enjoy working with others!
Here are some areas that could stand improvement: Help for the ex-offender. Anyone coming out of prison has an extra burden to find a job and keep together a family. People returning to the Rockford area have a tough time finding the help to get back on their feet, especially in these economic times. Overtaxed programs and services could always use a few volunteers to reach those in need.
Drug and alcohol addictions increase as the economy hardens. If someone wants off drugs now, and cannot afford treatment, they have to wait a few months. The few facilities that do offer help are in dire need of volunteer hours just to do simple tasks.
The environment is being ignored for the good of development and jobs, jobs, jobs. Every conservation organization is hurting, and without them, we can see the degradation of valuable land. Support your local environmentalists. Happy new clear vision!
Stanley Campbell is executive director of Rockford Urban Ministries and spokesman for Rockford Peace & Justice.
From the Dec. 29-Jan. 4, 2011 issue