Do a useful thing every day

Opinion: Editorials

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By Jill Wagner

In the Oct. 26, 1918 edition of the Review, Forest Parkers Arthur Bartach, Henry Berlin, Mrs. Chas. Malqurm, and Mrs. Louis Oswald were "flu victims on their way to recovery," as Forest Park was managing the Spanish Flu. This same issue of the Review listed the boys who were delayed going overseas to Europe to serve in the war effort there in order to prevent the spread of the virus of the day. Neighborhood meetings were cancelled.

A few months ago my kids picked up some historic copies of the magazine Lone Scout, which they found at the Ottawa Historical and Scouting Museum from that famous pandemic year, 1918. It was a way for scouting to reach remote communities and connect youth. Wildflower identification, scout short stories, tales of scouts being brave, instructions to build a toy submarine, or electric spool motor, taxidermy, counting tree rings — it is all there in the pages of this community connector. Want to make your own hectograph? Instructions on making your own copy maker can be found in these precious pages.

Inspired by this treasure from scouting a century ago, Pack 109 of Forest Park created a virtual world of interacting with others much like the Lone Scout program, but with a local and modern twist … and less taxidermy. Our virtual community through Facebook, YouTube and TicTock is the perfect way for youth to interact with parent support.

Posting "Where am I?" in photos around town, creating videos on how to do a craft or cook food, animal identification, and fun little short videos of parents and kids doing little tricks, these are the things that keep us together, bring us hope and keep us smiling, which is what we all need.

As we get through this latest pandemic, united, we have time to reflect on our gratitude for all our teachers, IT support staff, community service workers, medical staff, grocery store employees, community contributors, garbage collectors, and civil servants. It is going to take thousands of kind acts to keep us comfortable in this time. 

I am going to do something useful, and out of my normal routine, every day. Perhaps a thank-you note, a gift card from a local restaurant or retailer, a carry-out meal — all these little things will add up because there are other Forest Parkers doing the same. That is the Forest Park way. We are a community of kindness, and that is going to get us through. 

After the pandemic of 1918, you may have heard, a few years later our town collectively started a park district, a community center, a library and more. The much larger legacy of civic connection came out of that crisis, and together Forest Parkers created the strong community that we are all part of today. 

The 1918 Lone Scout Motto was "Do a useful thing each day." It is so simple, and easy to follow. I am sure you will be doing useful things every day, which will connect with all the other useful acts that keep our community going.

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