5009 El Palacio Dr
Bakersfield, CA 93307
David Collins is a sales representative with Commercial Trade, Inc., as well as the founder and director of the South Oswell Neighborhood Watch. He is also the Modertor and a board member-at-large of the Executive Business Roundtable.
"Encouragement builds hope, not barriers"
On a frozen morning a few years ago I wrenched open the side garage door to scout for the newspaper. The door grunted as it swung out before revealing a savage sunrise devouring the night.
After wading onto a landscape cemented with frost, my eyes jetted across the driveway looking for the newspaper. The harsh daylight was already eating away at the wet fences causing them to billow up steam. The area looked as if it had been lined with rows of altars burning incense.
Just as I scooped up my copy of the Bakersfield Californian the boom of a trash truck's metal arms jarred the frigid air. Suddenly the garage door of the next home began grinding up slowly unveiling two backlit figures dressed in heavy clothes.
I recognized them as my neighbor's adult sister and his young son. Unexpectedly the boy bolted out of the garage, stomping down the slopping concrete, while his aunt started padding after him. He had excitement flashing in his eyes as the garbage vehicle whipped around a curve and lurched toward him.
When the vehicle had rumbled closer, I saw the driver give the youth a quick wave punched with an electric smile that jolted through the his upper body. The boy's arms rocketed up with his hands wobbling at their wrists. It appeared as if he was signaling the muscular truck to stop. Instead, it kept snapping up caramel trash totes, swallowing the contents and plopping them down empty.
When I was lodged inside my warm house again, the events I had just seen came into clearer focus. I was impressed that the driver had recognized the youngester in spite his fast-paced work. By taking a few moments to reach out to the young person, the Bakersfield City employee had strengthened a child's confidence and improved his self-esteem.
I was quickly reminded that during my lifetime many people have inspired me, too. This includes my retired manager at Commercial Trade, the local collection agency where I work. His name is Gilbert Rodriguez and for decades he has coached youth sports in Shafter. Each year he spends countless hours developing his players and raising money for those who can't afford the costs. Occasionally he even fishes cash out of his wallet to help one of "his kids." As Gilbert points out, "young people are the future" so it only makes sense "to give them a hand."
Also, several local celebraties who have made a positive impact on me are former Bakersfield Mayor Harvey Hall and current Mayor Karen Goh. Both of them have gone out of their way to help the community group I founded, named the South Oswell Neighborhood Watch. They have even responded when our organization has asked for their aid.
Additionally, the support given by the residents in my area is phenomonial. They provide the energy needed to make the neighborhood watch effective. For example, strong leadership comes from SONW's President Don Moran, First VP Barry Wallace and Second VP Herman Lopez. Other key volunteers are Velma Flores and her sister Norma, Emma Jean and her husband Dawyne Lewis, as well as Dana Weir. Together, with their families, they make important contributions to our cleanups and donation campaigns. This extends to projects such as collecting children's books and basic supplies for the Bakersfield Homeless Center, gathering small consumer batteries for proper disposal, and rounding up eye glasses to be recycled for the needy.
Ultimately, positivity tends to motivate peoples much better than a punitive approach. It seems that throughout history the most admired spiritual leaders have used hope instead of fear in their struggle against the idols of their age. Optimism can also unlesh our hidden talents like a miner digging for diamonds in the dust. In the end a mining operation isn't measured by the amount of dirt it discards but by the quality of the stones it discovers.
As a result, let's remember to recognize those who have benefited us, as well as look for opportunities to uplift others. Incidentally, some of my strongest inspiration comes from my 91 year old mother, Elaine. She is still very active, attending church, visiting her local senior center and painting. In fact, she won an award for an art piece she entered in the last Kern County Fair. She is proof that success isn't energized by our asests but our attitudes and our achievements aren't powered by our heads but by our hearts."