Shafter teachers and staff wave and cheer on students coming to pick-up their cap and gowns in a spirit of celebration Friday morning. KHSD students have been picking up their caps and gowns from the Jostens in downtown Bakersfield in lieu of high school graduation.

It’s been said that adversity doesn’t build character, it reveals it — unearthing something lying dormant within us. Will we be among those who push through the struggle or crumble under the pressure?

The past several months have been nothing short of challenging, testing our mettle as individuals and as a community.

As with all hardship, it brought out some of the worst. Shelves remained empty for weeks at a time as a result of panic buying, leaving many without essential products.

But it’s also brought out a lot of the best. Stores limited the quantities shoppers can purchase and adjusted operating hours to prioritize elderly and at-risk customers — volunteers even stepped up to shop for them to limit their exposure.

It didn’t take long for Kern County to rally in support of one another, realizing that the situation is bigger than the individual but smaller than the whole — that together, and only together, make it through.

Because when people unite, it’s a force to be reckoned with. And when Kern County unites, it’s nearly unstoppable.

That’s because we embody the most important part of community — those last five letters — “unity.”

Our ability to give is unrivaled and has been on full display on a daily basis. It was easy finding examples of the community coming together and doing what it does best to fill the pages of this issue. The challenge was fitting so much into a limited space — something we were unable to accomplish. It’s a testament to how much is actually taking place.

But that’s part of the beauty of giving. Just because you don’t see it, read it or hear about it doesn’t mean it didn’t occur. In a digital age where so many adopt the philosophy of “post it or it didn’t happen,” many are still doing good for the sake of doing good — not for attention or praise but to help their fellow community members. Doing it because they want to help. Doing it because it’s the right thing to do.

That’s altruism at its core and our community is ripe with it.

Kern County is home to people who choose to be the good rather than wait for good to happen and come to them. Home to doers who see a problem and take it upon themselves to address it. Home to leaders who inspire through action and example, not title or position. Home to people who make you proud to live and work among them.

These are people who open their arms and with one collective breath say, “Come, unity.”

And that’s why everything will be OK. That’s why we will be OK.

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