Betty Jo Hardy: Diversity should be celebrated

Published 9:30 pm Tuesday, May 23, 2017

By Betty Jo Hardy

Special to the Salisbury Post

It may have been the hottest day we have had so far this year.

Those of us who were attending the Let’s Get Connected Day celebration on Saturday were grateful for the shade of the picnic shelter at the Rufty-Homles Senior Center.

We were very intentional about being present to witness one more gathering of diverse citizens of our community and celebrating our different cultures and religions. For a few folks, it was their first time, but for most of us it was a repeat experience.

For most of us, we find a “little glimpse of heaven” in hearing different styles of song in worship, different languages spoken in song and prayer, young dancers expressing their praise in dance, and a bright young student speaking words of truth in essay. We find purpose in gathering over and over to do this.

We are grateful for our elected officials, Mayor Karen Alexander, County Commission Chairman Greg Edds and Commissioner Judy Klusman for being present to affirm the importance of our gathering.

We were certainly grateful for the comfort of the F&M Trolley,  which protected us from the hot sun and transported us in comfort to the Dream Park for the Circle of Prayer to dedicate the Peace Pole. We were glad for cold Cheerwine and delicious hotdogs awaiting us on our return to the picnic shelter.

We were blessed by the fellowship. We have made long-time friends over the years of gathering to celebrate our diversity because we have been intentional about getting connected. We have been intentional about celebrating our commonalities. We find purpose in longing together for peace.

So, maybe for the last time, we gathered one more time to dedicate a Peace Pole to a dream.

Many thanks to the Human Relations Council for continued support. Many thanks to Rufty-Holmes Senior Center’s executive director, Rick Eldridge, who could not have been a more gracious host.

Many thanks to our sponsors, Food Lion, Cheerwine and F&M Bank. To our performers — Kim Lance, Rennetta Roberts, Deborah Smith, Dustin Shelton, Seth Labovitz and the Love Christian Center Dancers — we are very grateful.

To our participants of the Prayer Circle, Susan Lee, Seth Labovitz, Yosikho Otey, Pastor Anthony Smith, Pastor Lastasha Wilks, Pastor Pat Jones, Mayor Karen Alexander, Rev. Judy Klusman, Rev. Fleming Otey and Pastor Julius Koonce enhanced the dedication with prayers of praise, petition and lament.

Finally, thanks to Love Christian Center for providing Thomas and Dwayne who took care of the sound system and the cooking and serving of our hot dogs. It takes a village to have a multicultural celebration. We are thankful we have a diverse village from which to draw these gifted folks. We are blessed.

Betty Jo Hardy chaired Let’s Get Connected Day.