An early morning donut and a thousand reasons to hope

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Reminders of why we need to look past the headlines and remember our shared community

By Mike McGann, Editor, UnionvilleTimes.com
POCOPSON — It’s easy to lose perspective, just from reading the headlines. Whether it’s home foreclosures, the nasty infighting in the political arena or even some of the thorny issues confronting this community in terms of the school district, one could think that everything has gone terribly wrong and there is no reason for hope.

As a journalist — it can be all too easy to see the negative side of things, embrace a cynical vision of the world and essentially give up hope.

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But this morning, I had a couple of reminders of why that’s a mistaken point of view. When I’m not busy pounding on a keyboard (or trying to figure out the vagaries of Google’s search engine criteria), I’m a husband. I’m a father. I’m a weekend youth sports coach.

All of those things inform my worldview — and the activities I’m involved with give me a different perspective that you might see or hear from other journalists.

This morning was Donuts with Dad at Pocopson Elementary School. The more cynical of you might suggest that its little more than a scam to get dads to come to school to buy books for their kids at the Book Fair.

The truth, as is often the case, is both richer and more complicated.

Bleary-eyed as I tend to be at 8 a.m., the kids and I wandered into the Pocopson cafeteria this morning. And if seemed like a bother, or an interruption of my work morning, how excited my kids were to have me be part of the everyday school lives was pretty obvious — and I knew it was well worth it. Maybe better was the number of other dads (and granddads and so on) who changed their work schedules, put meetings on hold or made allowances just to take some extra time with their kids. And yes, I know the same ritual is played out at the other three elementary schools with much the same results.

My kids were excited dragging their dad, me, around, but I saw other kids doing exactly the same thing with their dads, the same look of excitement in the kids, the same slightly-dazed, possibly coffee-challenged (certainly in my case) look in their eyes, mixed with pride and genuine affection.

It’s in that moment, and hundreds of others, whether I’m coaching softball over the Unionville Recreation Association, or just stopping to pick up a few things at the SuperFresh that remind me of something important: we don’t live in a community, but we are a community.

We have shared hopes, fears and expectations — the excellent school district being just one manifestation, albeit an excellent one. We are Unionville and Unionville is us.

That is something very special and important not to lose sight of when we hear so many bad bits of news.

Look, I realize many people are struggling, some of who are right here. And maybe too many of us are working harder or more hours just to keep up.

This morning was a reminder of why, at least to me. All told, there are some 4,100 students in the Unionville-Chadds Ford School District. The extreme vast majority have parents and families that are loving, concerned and involved (some might joke too involved) in their childrens’ lives and school.

This is no small thing. As worried or frustrated as we might be by the present challenges we face, every moment we focus on our kids is an investment in the future.

Just in a matter of minutes this morning I saw hundreds of little moments: a hug, a wink, a smile — all the little gestures parents make to let their kids know they are loved and treasured — that gave me hope. No matter how tough things might get, and in truth, they might get hard around here in the coming months, we will get through it all, and remain a community.

Tough times fade away. Strong communities never do.

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