Column 1: Despite everything

Martinez News-Gazette Columnist

“DESPITE EVERYTHING, I believe that people are really good at heart.” These words from someone in history. A young woman known to the world as Anne Frank. A young woman of World War Two history who became an international heroine and literary figure.

The quote of the day in Wednesday’s Gazette inspired this writer to talk about some people and events which are part of our lives now, recently or in the past. For a few moments let us turn away from the chaos and ugliness bombarding us every day.

A STANDOUT in Martinez’s education and civic circles for so many years, Claudia Murphy Whitnah, passed away October 7, at age 93. The depth of her life was noted extensively in her obituary this past week. She was a woman-on-the-go even after nearly 30 years in classrooms in nearby communities and settling in Martinez where so many students in the elementary levels were provided loving attention and first-class teaching. Even after her retirement, Claudia was deeply involved in the community, belonging to, and actively involved in the work and efforts of each organization working to make our community a better place for its residents. In 2014 Claudia was recognized for her many years of community efforts by receiving the Martinez Chamber of Commerce Lifetime Achievement Award. A memorial service was held Friday attended by former students, friends and admirers. A voice for good is now silent, but fondly remembered, as is the spirit.

SISTER ANN WELTZ, a ‘hometown girl’ who grew up on Ward Street, is retiring from an organization which she founded 37 years ago in Concord, a refuge which has been dedicated to service for children and families of our community. The Bay Area Crisis Nursery’s mission is to prevent abuse and neglect of children by providing support to families who are in crisis or under stress. So many stories over the years of children, including infants, being “rescued’ where family crises required quick action, even in the middle of the night. Truly a mission of love by Sister Ann and her associates.

A chart of children served in a five-month period earlier this year, and the reasons for their admissions to the safety and security of the Bay Area Crisis Nursery tells of 270 children from across the county, including 40 from Alameda County. Reasons for the admissions: domestic violence, homeless, loss of child care, mental/physical, illness, recovery, respite breaks, stress breaks and unsafe environments. The largest number of admissions was for stress breaks, a situation where families were not able to cope and, before a tragedy occurred, Crisis Nursery was able to be involved. Sister Ann, someone who is “really good at heart.”

Sister Ann Weltz’ dedication, caring and love of humanity, has earned her the highest accolades from the community as well as the thousands of families she helped work through very tough times over 37 busy years.

JOHN MUIR Land Trust, a force of volunteers working to make our greater area a better place now, and into the future by ‘gathering up’ large areas of the landscape to be available to the public for generations to come as open space. Their efforts have been recognized, and the willingness of the public to be a part of this activity is shown by monetary support in purchasing properties selected as important for the betterment of those who may wish to make use of the areas for hiking, horseback riding, ‘hanging out’ in the fresh air, or whatever. Again, here is an organization of volunteers “who are really good at heart.” They want things to be better for present and future generations.

MEALS ON WHEELS, a large group of local volunteers from service clubs, church groups and well beyond in the community, must be included in the “really good at heart’ list. They drive their own vehicles on their own time to deliver meals which are eagerly awaited by hundreds in the community who cannot fend totally for themselves. The face-to-face contact with their ‘customers’ showing concern while handing a lunchtime meal, is so meaningful to both the giver and the recipient. A display of goodness at each stop by someone who cares enough to volunteer time and effort, many having done so for years, is priceless. Goodness prevails. The world’s ugliness is somewhere else. Truly a win-win situation on the goodness list.

SERVICE CLUBS, fraternal groups, churches and so many other organizations all deal in goodness. Every act advocates and promotes for betterment of the community. Self-importance is not a goal. Self-centered individuals need not apply. Our community is blessed with so many great groups made up of people who are good at heart. They are what keeps a community a community. We have one in Martinez.

CHEERS aplenty for all those who either have voted by mail or plan to hit their polling place on TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 6TH. What transpires as the result of voting this week will have immediate and long-range impact on our nation and its many subdivisions….states, cities, local districts, including our schools. We are hoping that Measure X will pass to help the city, as well as Measure Q to provide additional revenue for local schools. However you do it, please vote as a conscientious citizen. There is an urgent need for serious thinking about the political situation with our national leadership. We all have heard the phrase “let no man put asunder” at the conclusion of marriage vows. We now have a situation where one man (and his associates) are putting our nation asunder, with executive orders and, now, defying the constitution to further his immigration efforts. Time to correct this movement is running out.

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