I am pleased to welcome my dear friend Silagh as a guest blogger today. When she was looking for a forum to share these thoughts I quickly offered her space here. I hope this is not going to be be Silagh's only visit as a GB. As always your thoughts and comments are welcome.
I'm honored to bring my thoughts to this incredible forum. Over the last few months, Donald has offered deep insights into his values that are reflected in his support of local politicians. I'm moved by his unwavering support of John Callahan as the next representative of Pennsylvania's 15th congressional district. My vote counts as much as any person. I'm right in line behind Donald with whom I wish to represent me, and my fellow citizens of the Lehigh Valley; John Callahan. My statements here are not a reflection of any organization with which I am affiliated. I offer these thoughts as a private citizen; as the rights and privileges of the United States Constitution offer me.
Last week, I attended a small celebration, "Lights On, Doors Open" in South Bethlehem. It was at the Fowler Center of the Hispanic Council on East Fourth Street. The celebration was in line with the national campaign to raise awareness of the importance of after school programs. The hours of 3-6PM are when youth are more likely to get into trouble if they are not engaged and supported by these programs; especially if they come home to an empty house because their parents are still at work. I wrote about this in a post on the ArtsLehigh blog last March. The event was not only to celebrate the work that has been happening here, and with other non-profits in the Lehigh Valley, but to encourage support for it to sustain and grow.
Since it was less than two weeks away from the November 2nd election, ALL the local politicians were present: Dent, Boscola, Brennan, Samuelson, BASD Superintendent, and some members of the BASD School board. After a delightful performance from two of the program's young participants, the politicians took turns speaking. Congressman Dent was first. He said,
"I'm so happy to be here and thank you for the invitation to enjoy the celebration. But I must apologize that I have to leave early. My daughter is playing a field hockey game, and I'm sure you'll understand this priority. Thanks again."
While I understand wanting to be there for your kids, he could have AT LEAST said something about the desire to support more after school programs. Guess he doesn't. There was so much UNSAID that informs my level of faith in his understanding of ALL of his constituents. I'm not swayed by one appearance. I'm swayed by a voting record.
Boscola didn't have much to say about the program either. But she also had to run. She less than gracefully exited stage left soon after Dent.
Brennan's and Samuelson's statements were better. As parents, they both have kids who have been involved in after school programs. In fact, I've witnessed Samuelson volunteering at Pennsylvania Youth Theatre. My kids go to school with Brennan's kids. They played together at the afterschool program last year.
When Mayor Callahan entered the building during Samuelson's speech, he made his way over to me to shake my hand. Similar to what Donald wrote in a previous post, John makes me feel like a human being - not just a constituent. But he's not looking for rock star status. Callahan is attentive to all the people he meets. In this instance, he really understands the reasons why after school programs need to be. For 15 minutes, he shared with the crowd his personal story of being a Head Start kid - where speech therapists helped him with a rare impediment. He stayed involved with afterschool programs; sports, leadership, etc., because his home life was less than perfect. He credits much of his success from the teachers, coaches and mentors that looked out for him. But while there were programs for him, he still worked to make the most of this life - and now he wants to pay it forward. Mayor Callahan's leadership stands enough for me to have more faith in his him, than trust in Dent.
I'm an arts administrator with an irrational devotion to my children. I believe that if their peers are offered similar opportunities to what I work hard to provide mine, their world will be better to live in. I vote for candidates who reflect my values. My vote is for John Callahan. And I'm also voting to keep Brennan and Samuelson in office as well.
Dr. Silagh M Chiappetta White
Mother, Wife, Arts Administrator, Volunteer, Citizen.