In the middle of the muddle that is 2020, it is ever more important to look for signs of grace and goodness. Fortunately in Forest Park you never have to look far.

Fixing cars, raising students

It won’t be a normal school year at Proviso East. But that doesn’t mean eager students won’t be able to learn auto mechanics and the Zen that goes with it when Donald Robinson is the teacher.

Last week Maria Maxham profiled Robinson as he explained why learning to fix a car — either your own in the driveway or as a well-paid professional — is about more than changing the oil. Robinson offers his students knowledge through both textbook learning and extensive time in the newly improved auto shop at the school.

Beyond that, he has built a refuge in that shop for his students. He formed an official extracurricular Auto Club that brings students back after school, offers them a quieter-than-the-cafeteria place to have lunch, and builds camaraderie that is all to the good.

Robinson has opened a partnership with Triton College to advance his students’ opportunities. He has begun working with the drivers ed teachers at the school. And there are partnerships with Auto Zone and State Farm that connect the young mechanics to the community.

Even in this remote learning year, the auto shop will be open on a limited basis to students with every precaution in place. So tire pressure will be checked and lives will be changed.

‘Is this our Julie Brown?’

Indeed it was Garfield School’s Julie Brown and the Facebook post she made about her son Billy’s imminent need for a kidney donor that was of immediate concern to Dina Farrington. Both women work at Garfield School, Brown as a preschool assistant and Farrington as a kindergarten teacher. The two women had known each other for years but Farrington did not know about young Brown’s failing condition.

Farrington immediately began the process of figuring out if she might be a match to make the donation. It’s complicated. She called her mom because she didn’t know her blood type. She had a body scan to confirm that she actually had two functioning kidneys.

The match was made, and the surgeries took place Aug. 20. Four days later, Farrington was teaching her first day of remote learning for her kindergarten class. And Billy Brown? Well he is on the rise with renewed energy and plans to play sports again.

Get counted at the library

You’ve got to love our library. Still trying to get the library somewhat and safely reopened in the midst of this never-ending pandemic, they’re also working hard to boost Forest Park’s participation in the 2020 Census.

Right now the village is at 70 percent of its target. The hope is to reach 85 percent participation. An accurate count turns into government dollars and better representation for the next 10 years. So this is crucial.

If the census intimidates you, the library is ready to walk you through it. And there is swag to go with it. Who does not need a co-branded library and census face mask?!