Are You a Member of this Community?

Jaime Baikataris grew up in Redding. Although he now lives in Westport, he works here at RES. Jaime wrote this thoughtful piece that appeared in WestportNow. Reprinted with permission.

To the Editor:

I was at work when I found out something had happened yesterday: “Hey, what’s going on in Westport?” someone texted. My heart dropped.

The last time I got a text like that, I was a freshman at Staples, sitting in the library, and the Newtown shooting has just occurred.

Now I’m a sophomore in college, sitting at my desk, and Westport is the subject. Today “close to home” became “home.”

Those are my friends, those are my teachers, and this is my town — our town. I’m angry that it hit home.

Staples taught me something though: my anger won’t do anything, but our community will.

In the weeks after Newtown, Staples teachers often spoke about a sense of community. They taught us to be in our community, invite others to our community, and to love our community.

Yesterday a brave student acted on a love for our community; he or she might have just saved it.

My question to all of the readers is: are you a member of this community? Do you teach your kids to be members of this community”

Do you make kindness a priority, putting a smile, wave, or “hello” on your list of things to do? Do you take the time to read our local news outlets or blogs?

Do you make time to volunteer or work within our town, to give selflessly to a cause that you love?

Most importantly, do you trust the people around you, and are you yourself trustworthy?

Every time there’s a shooting I hear about gun control, mental health, and security measures.

What I do not hear about is the importance of community — the importance in being a member of a group of people who care about you, and who give you something to care about.

Yesterday our educators, our emergency service personnel, and our municipal leaders showed us exactly how the community should be protected.

But it was a high schooler who showed us exactly why we need to teach our kids to love their community.

Because one day, they may end up saving that community.

Thank you,

Jaime Bairaktaris,
Westport