“Fall seven times, stand up eight.” – Japanese proverb
I do not know the Maddox family and I did not bank at The Peoples Bank; nonetheless, the demise of that community institution makes me sad. On and off for 15 years now I’ve covered community events for a local newspaper and I have watched, photographed and reported on the Maddox family and/or The Peoples Bank showing up to do more than their fair share time and time again. And, from what I know about local history, they’ve been doing that for a long time.
From fundraisers to small business loans to sponsoring ball teams and contributing to local charities, The Peoples Bank has been there, helping and taking part, making sure things that needed doing got done and causes that needed support got what it took to take them from survive to thrive.
The Peoples Bank has also employed a lot of folks over the years – amongst them people I know, neighbors and even a few of my kids’ classmates. I sincerely hope being taken over by a new bank doesn’t mean some of those people will lose their jobs. It’s a rough job market out there and especially the older employees will have a hard time finding work.
I just bought some new plants to put in the pots by my front door – bright colors and hearty greens, in anticipation of the fall I hope will come soon – this summer has been so relentless. For years I did this every fall without thinking about it; then Mr. Clark lost his job and we were without his income for 15 months. No more new fall plants…no more new anything…pretty soon no more way to pay for the things that had to be paid for…and, after awhile, no more hope.
Mr. Clark’s no spring chicken and his job search went poorly; there towards the end, the only thing that kept us going emotionally and barely afloat financially was help from family and friends. It wasn’t all major things like checks and such; it was also kind words, a Walmart gift card, a bag of groceries and, from my daughter, enough money to buy a few new fall plants. Who would think something that small would mean so much? It did.
Being out of work, at least for Mr. Clark and I, was a major life changer. It humbled us, while making us more strong. It clarified what really matters and made it obvious how insignificant so many things we used to place value on really were. It drew us closer and ripped us apart. And, it was the bleakest, saddest, hardest time we’ve ever been through. Morning after morning, both Mr. Clark and I wondered how we would wrench ourselves out of bed, so dark and grim our future seemed.
And, then, the very month we were going to make the last house payment we could afford, Mr. Clark got a new job. That was a year ago now and I’m still not done saying a prayer of thanks every morning when I wake up. We were on edge for so long that every day of our current plenty still seems like a miracle. And, the knowledge that this, too, could pass, keeps us humble and working hard to build that savings account back up again.
My point is, this recession is far from over and there are people all around us suffering today. People who’ve had their hours cut; people who’ve lost their jobs; people who don’t have medical insurance anymore; people with bills they have no way to pay. And, a lot of those folks aren’t accustomed to needing or asking for help. So, please, if you’ve been blessed with continued employment and have a little to give, look around and see who is suffering nearby – it could be so silently that, without taking a good look, you’d never guess… It doesn’t take a lot to make a difference – a phone call, a gift card, a check or a crisp $20, $50 or $100 bill…maybe you can provide a service somebody struggling might need, but can’t afford right now…maybe you could bake a pie or a casserole or offer a movie coupon…maybe all you can do is give your friend, co(or ex-co)worker or neighbor a few pots of pretty fall plants to put by their door. The point is, we’re all in this together, which is the thing the folks at The Peoples Bank got for all those years.
Lorin Sinn-Clark is a writer for the Barrow Journal. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.