Written by Kirsten Bestor, Bank Manager, WesBanco, Beaver Falls
Sometimes it seems like one of the biggest gifts in my life has been my neighbors. When I was very small, my neighbors were some of my best friends. I would visit Obba (my nickname for Eleanor) to learn about the flowers in her garden and to play my favorite Nancy Drew board game. I spent time with Norma while she taught me to cook, the smell of leek soup and her melodious accent filling the kitchen. I climbed Willard and Jean’s plum tree, hiding amongst the leaves while I popped the sweet fruit into my mouth and pretended I was in another world.
I moved three times in my childhood, but all of those moves were within the City of Beaver Falls, and each move brought new neighbors into my life- new neighbors with new stories, new adventures, and new experiences to share. I guess it should come as no surprise that I have found myself in harmony with the mission of Neighborhood North- a place where more children can be impacted through the same type of experiences that shaped and molded me.
Over the past year of our lives, the concept of what it means to be a neighbor has been put to the test. We hear stories in our own communities about neighbors going above and beyond to check on the elderly and the vulnerable, providing meals and groceries to those who were unable to venture out in the middle of a global pandemic. Community food pantries sprung up all around. During a particularly difficult time in my own life this fall, one of my neighbors began to mow the grass in my front yard when he would mow his own. When the first snow fell this winter, I woke to see him clearing the snow from my car before the sun came up- a clear demonstration of his care for me as his neighbor.
At my job, it has been my privilege to partner with neighboring small businesses in Beaver Falls to process PPP loans to help people in our own community when their doors were virtually shuttered overnight. We helped our customers, friends and neighbors through the kind of experiences that all of us fear but never expected- the loss of jobs, fear for families, our health, our well-being. What will the future look like for our neighborhoods? Right now, we really still don’t know.
Neighborhood North is still imagining that future. We are committed to Beaver Falls, to children, to the power of collaborative imagination. We believe so strongly in a future that we cannot envision right now, but we will invest our time and energy and hope and resources into giving children a place to imagine and play and learn and grow together. Where we see division amongst neighbors in the world, we dare to imagine a place where conflict is part of learning, and where we learn from and alongside one another. Where the future seems uncertain, we look to the next generation in our neighborhoods to create and lead us in a new way forward. We hope, dear neighbor, that you will join us.
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