Hope Comes From the Ground Up


During 2017, I think all of us have been fatigued by the difficult political climate. Perhaps because of that, a lot of people ask me “What keeps you going?”

For me, hope comes from the ground up. I am inspired and motivated by the kind of people my mom always describes with the Biblical phrase “salt of the earth.” They are not politicians or attention seekers, just people who love to serve their community and try to make it better every single day. So for my final column of the year, I’d like to recognize some of the local people who gave me hope during 2017.

Jason Shepherd – Orange County’s Fire Marshall has stepped up as a leader statewide on addressing fire safety issues.

Andre Richmond – The Orange County Sheriff’s Office Community Services Division is doing great work to make sure that our community feels a direct connection to law enforcement.

Phillip Nasseri – The White Cross Volunteer Fire Department is doing tremendous work to engage young people in a career path that our community will always need.

Craig Lloyd – From leading the Efland Ruritan Club to the NC National Guard Association, Craig always has inspiring ideas for how to make the community better.

Will Okun – Orange High’s Assistant Principal has an Instagram account that is a beautiful documentation of that school’s amazing students.

Eric McBurnett – Stanback Middle School’s technology teacher runs a robotics team where the kids learn by doing their own hard work and problem solving.

Latarndra Strong – Latarndra’s successful advocacy for hate-free schools shows the value of persistence and courage, as well as why local advocacy matters.

Phyllis Mack Horton – Phyllis is quietly working to preserve one of our nation’s most interesting and untold pieces of history, Rosenwald Schools, including the Russell School in our own backyard.

Kat Cheek – Kat is the charming and affirming leader of the Schley Grange, which does everything from give dictionaries to kids to advocate for better rural internet.

Simon and Natasha Rose – Small Potatoes Farm is a great example of how young people can keep rural Orange County a farming community.

John Cecil – In White Cross, there’s not much that happens without John pitching in, from Antioch Church’s breakfast to the annual tractor pull.

Bob Burtman – The WHUP 3-D News covers a whole lot of ground every morning, with a tremendous sense of humor and excellent music.

Aaron Butner – The Hillsborough NC Community Info group on Facebook is one of the best sources for local information.

Lynden Harris – For years, Hidden Voices has created plays from interviews with real people that have made me stop and reflect things that I’ve never experienced.

Larry Duckworth –I don’t know anyone who loves our local music scene more than this guy, and he’s one heck of a drummer.

Kirk and Jody Kidney – At The Kraken roadhouse bar, Kirk and Jody have created a special community that is truly open to anyone who wants to come by.

Ariaine Sanders – Ari’s energy is a big part of what makes Mystery Brewing’s Public House such an inviting environment and why West Hillsborough has become such a destination for locals and visitors.

Dean James – Churton Street’s restaurant scene has taken off since Dean started focusing his attention there. RIP Bona Fide Sandwich Shop.

Chuy and Irene Bravo – The Fiesta Grill is destination dining five miles from anywhere, and they keep my family fueled.

Daphne Quinn – My Legislative Assistant bends over backwards any time we get a request for assistance from a local resident, because she knows we’re in Raleigh to serve the people in Orange and Durham Counties.

This is my personal thanks to all of these fine people. You inspire me. You make me believe in the goodness of this world. Thank you.

This post was originally printed in the News of Orange on December 13, 2017