Community Pride Really Matters
‘Jay shares thoughts on how the feeling of genuine pride can foster community spirit and make a positive difference.’
Our communities are vital. Whether it’s a small town, a village or a neighborhood, our communities give us a sense of belonging, a feeling of connectedness. We care about the well-being of others, and we take a certain pride in those around us. We attach ourselves to the traditions and values of our community. And, as I like to say, communities help us unleash the power of the human spirit.
Every Friday across our country during the fall, you’ll often find the local high school football field with its lights on and stands full of people cheering for their respective teams. It's one of my favorite pastimes, namely due to the sense of pride that each coach, player, and fan has for their home team, and more importantly, their community. When a big cheer goes out for a great play or a touchdown, those aren’t just cheers for what’s happening on the field, but they are cheers for what a community represents.
Being from a small town has always been a point of pride for me. Whenever I am back in Newport and I see a neighbor mowing their lawn or a new business opening up, I am filled with an incredible sense of encouragement. I am encouraged because I know that there are those in my community who also take pride in where they are from. It’s inspiring to say the least.
Being proud of where we are from has an important effect. It builds camaraderie and a sense of responsibility not just to ourselves, but to others who also value and cherish the same place we do. In doing so, we tend to do more for our neighbors, willing to support them when we may not have otherwise. We also tend to be more active in our communities, helping nurture or grow the things which we love about where we’re from. And in turn, we build better places to live. So, take pride in your community, invest the effort and then experience the joy as your community blossoms and prospers!
Derry – Wonderful History – Home of the Potato & Much More!
Derry, New Hampshire is a bedroom community off I-93 in southern New Hampshire. While Derry has experienced tremendous growth over the last forty years, it actually has very humble beginnings rooted in one of America’s foundational ideals - the pursuit for religious freedom.
Derry was founded in 1719 by Presbyterian immigrants from Northern Ireland who fled their homeland to avoid religious persecution. When they arrived in Boston, they were not given a warm greeting by the residents of the Bay State and after much pleading were granted a 100 square mile plot of land in the “Northern Wilderness” called Nutfield. When the settlers arrived at their new home, they thanked God and did something that no one in America had done before – planted a potato. That’s right, Derry, New Hampshire is the home of America’s first potato. You’re welcome Idaho!
Shortly thereafter, the town petitioned the Royal Government in Portsmouth to become an official town. They quickly cast off the name Nutfield and renamed the town Londonderry, after the town where the settlers were from. The town folks continued on into the Revolutionary War and produced many well-known heroes including General John Stark and had townspeople fighting at the battle of Bunker Hill. Matthew Thornton, from Derry, was even a signer of the Declaration of Independence.
In 1827, the village of Derry split off from the larger Londonderry and established itself as a new town – known as Derry - the original name of Londonderry in Northern Ireland which means a hill covered with oak trees.
Derry has had a very industrial past, at one point being one of the largest shoe manufacturers in America, sending their shoes all over the world. They even at one point claimed to have the world’s longest wood building. The town was also known as one of the world’s premier producers of linens. Since then, Derry has continued to grow and while the potato fields are gone and the shoe factories were burned in an accident in the 1960’s, replaced by quiet suburban houses.
And of course, this town boasts a number of notables in its gloried past – including General John Stark as mentioned above, the poet Robert Frost and the first American in space Alan B. Shepard. And, not surprisingly, this historic town continues to be a magnet for great people today!
Pride Bubbling Up in Manchester!
The passion for our communities can overwhelm us with emotion and great feeling. The desire to make a difference is just something in all of us. As I travel the Granite State advancing the Sunshine Initiative, I have come to learn about so many community organizations committed to making a difference right in their own back yard. Two I would like to highlight are ‘We Heart West’ and ‘Intown Manchester.’
As I’m sure you may know, Manchester is the largest city in New Hampshire. It's home to a minor league baseball team, as well as the textile mills that are now home to innovation, education, and office space. Manchester is also home to the first Credit Union in the country. The Queen City and its people are rich in pride and not afraid to show it.
Over on the West Side of Manchester a group of residents have formed ‘We Heart West,’ a group committed to cleaning up their community. Both owners and renters on the West Side have come together to improve their neighborhoods. Via a published online calendar, volunteers gather to pick up trash on roads, sweep alleyways, clean up parks, and beautify the place they call home. It's truly incredible what ‘We Heart West’ is doing and how they are transforming their community.
Across the bridge is Downtown Manchester, the heart and soul of the Queen City. Home to City Hall, the bustling Elm Street corridor filled with restaurants, bars, and businesses, as well as hotels and the SNHU Arena, the downtown has seen a resurgence over the past 20 years. Once a vacant and dormant area, it has now become the place to be. Young professionals are living downtown and colleges like UNH, SNHU, and NEC are setting up shop there. One organization at the forefront, doing its part and leading the way is ‘Intown Manchester.’
‘Intown Manchester’ is the first and only Business Improvement District in the state of New Hampshire. The small staff works with downtown businesses in marketing, communications, and events. In addition, Intown Manchester overseas the cleaning and plowing programs of the downtown, managers all the outdoor planting and beautification programs, and even handles the Christmas decorations along Elm Street including City Hall. These programs have cast a new light on the downtown and is one of the many reasons Manchester Downtown continues to be on the move and hosts some exciting events including the summer concert series at Veterans Park as well as the annual Taco Tour!
Without out a doubt, Intown Manchester and We Heart Manchester are truly making a difference. And, the efforts of these two organizations help build a pride and momentum for this great city. Hugely exciting and motivating. Catch the spirit, feel the pride!
Positive Profile of the Week: Jon Morton
Coretta Scott King, the wife of Dr. Martin Luther King said it best - “The greatness of a community is most accurately measured by the compassionate actions of its members. “
I couldn’t agree more and right here in the Granite State so many people are stepping up. According to recent online data, there are 6,547 charitable organizations in New Hampshire. If our Profile of the Week, Jon Morton had his way, he would find a way to help them all.
Jon Morton is New Hampshire guy. A graduate of Merrimack Valley High School, Jon continued his education right here in the ‘Live Free or Die’ state by attending Franklin Piece for business and NHTI for finance.
Today, John is finance expert with New York Life, and you can see the passion he has for it when he gives presentations. Jon’s other passion is giving back to his community. I first met Jon through a mutual friend. Jon was eager to step to help that cause and would later become a key supporter of Children of Fallen Patriots. At almost every event Karen and I would attend we would see Jon. From supporting veterans through his efforts with Hero Pups or via Easterseals/Veterans Count to helping the Kids at CHaD, Jon is community minded through and through. Jon even went so far to allocate profits from a business venture to support his Hero Pups organization which is based in here in New Hampshire committed to pairing dogs with veterans and first responders with service-related traumatic challenges. Most recently, Jon was instrumental in the 2021 efforts of Best Buddies of New Hampshire. If you ever take a look at his social media feeds most of them are about supporting a cause in need rather than any talk about himself. He truly puts people first!
Right there, I raddled off five non-profits where Jon has been a key supporter, and we are only scratching the surface of his commitment to his community and the heart he has for his fellow man.
Karen and I are blessed to call Jon a friend and New Hampshire is indeed fortunate to enjoy Jon’s contributions and leadership.
Quotes of the Week: Community Pride
“When you look at a city, it's like reading the hopes, aspirations and pride of everyone who built it.”
Hugh Newell Jacobsen
“You need to take pride in what God has given you.” - Joel Osteen
“Show class, have pride, and display character. If you do, winning takes care of itself.”
“Quality is pride of workmanship.”
W. Edwards Deming
“Whatever you do, take pride in it and be great at it.”