Letter: ‘All of us need to ... pull Hastings together’I have spent the past week comforting teens, wiping away tears, shedding my own and giving hugs. It hasn’t been an easy time in Hastings and I expect that the days and weeks ahead will be difficult. The good news is that we’re not without hope.
To the editor,
I have spent the past week comforting teens, wiping away tears, shedding my own and giving hugs. It hasn’t been an easy time in Hastings and I expect that the days and weeks ahead will be difficult. The good news is that we’re not without hope. There are ways for us to move forward that will make us a stronger community than ever before.
We need especially to take care of our children — and that doesn’t mean just the people who have kids ages 0-18. All of us need to help pull Hastings together and let our children know we care.
Studies have shown that students — particularly teens — do best when they feel they are valued members of the community and that they have caring adults in their lives. Being a caring adult goes beyond parents and families; it means that we all should recognize the talents, struggles and hopes that define our children.
It’s not hard and it doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. It’s as simple as a wave to the teenage boy next door as you drive down the street and he’s getting out of his car. Or saying “Hello” to the neighbor girl at the store —and using her name in the greeting. If you see a child you know has made the honor roll or done an outstanding job in the fall play or on the athletic field, drop them a note and say how proud you are of them. Volunteer at your church youth group, lead a mission trip, offer to become a mentor or attend a school function, even if your kids are grown. These small things make a big difference in the lives of all of us, but especially to teenagers who may have lost direction and need our love and support.
To our youth, I say: talk to us. Let us know about the bad stuff, but let us know about the good stuff, too. Engage in your neighborhood and the community. That elderly lady down the street who waves at you? Maybe she needs help mowing her lawn. Invite the guy next door to your wrestling meet.
And tell us when you’re hurting, because we want you to feel better and to be safe. Adults care, and many of us have faced our own serious challenges. I lost my father at a young age; the grief and loneliness can be overwhelming. Remember, we’re here to help.
Obviously the challenges that we will face after the tragedies of the past few months will not be remedied by simple waves and smiles at the grocery store. But in light of what’s happened, we need to pull together community resources to build a strong network that will help Hastings heal. Already the school district, city, county, churches and others have come together to help not only our kids but also adults grieve in a healthy and productive way. The healing process will take time, and the sadness may linger for quite some time. We should channel this energy to be a positive for our kids and for our town. I certainly plan to be involved as much as possible. I invite you to join me.
Four years ago on Halloween, Mitchell Lucas and his father drove up our driveway; Mitchell hopped out of the car dressed as a “Kissin’ Booth.” There was so much laughter and fun that night. This Halloween was bittersweet at our house as we remembered Mitch and the boisterous young man that we knew. We kept the happy Mitch in mind as we handed out candy and greeted our little ghosts, princesses and pirates. We won’t always be able to solve all our children’s problems, but we need to let them know we love them. Let’s stand together Hastings, face our challenges and be the strong community we know we can be.
Be safe, be strong. God’s peace.
Danna Elling Schultz