I think most people like to start out their new year with a resolution or two or even a hope or two they’d like to see sweep America. I’d like for all of us to start out the 2023 year by being awake and aware. There is so much going on around us, and we need to be more aware of it and how it impacts our future. The word “woke” has come into our lives in a big way. It’s a term that started out with good intentions nearly 90 years ago — it meant to be aware of prejudice and racial discrimination. I dislike the word immensely but let’s all, as a matter of course, be aware of prejudice and racial discrimination and vow to be more decent as human beings, respecting all the people around us.
In fact, it would be great to bring decency back into the conversation in 2023. Can we just stop name-calling, body-shaming and slandering those with whom we don’t agree? Doing otherwise tears apart our country and accomplishes nothing of value. I’d love seeing all of us use the new year to form lasting friendships and partnerships, not politically expedient alliances. For example, I wish we could all tackle homelessness together as something more than just an “optics” solution. It isn’t about simply getting people off the streets and out of sight so they won’t hurt our property values or public image. Most people without shelter need much more than that: They need the restoration of their emotional, physical and mental health. They need to overcome addictions to drugs and alcohol and hopelessness. They need to be viewed as more than talking points for the people we elect.
And speaking of those elected to office: The honor of serving should be viewed as something you do after being successful in your field of business. Its purpose is for you to share what you’ve learned and try to apply it as a public servant with the very real hope of improving the country, state and city in which you live — then to go back to your field of business. Politics is not supposed to be a lifelong, redundant coronation. In California and across the country, local, regional and national politicians play a game of musical chairs and never seem to be ready to go back to their field of business. Political positions should have a natural lifetime — but should not last a lifetime.
Another hope in 2023 is that we’ll not only examine the root causes of crime but also punish people appropriately for committing a crime. We should also be rehabilitating them in the process. Emptying our prisons, as is being talked about, is counterintuitive. While imprisoned, people need to be retaught the importance of being honorable. They also need to learn some kind of trade so they can return to society with hopes and dreams and not get back into crime with another return to prison. My Christian faith is strong so I’ll add that some Bible study could be taught to those who share the faith. Rehabilitation is a huge undertaking, but I know it can be done. There are many great examples.
There’s much in our world and our country that is going very, very wrong — dare I say open borders, drug trafficking, human trafficking and worse. I’d surely like to find a resolution to all these and many other challenges we face as a country and world.
At times, parts of me can feel a bit defeated at all I see and hear, and I pray a hero will come to the rescue — soon. Service may be the essential key to righting the crazy course of politics, mindless hatred and more, to making American society the generous melting pot it was designed to be.
As I write this, 10 of my family members and I are determining what we might do as a special service for others during the last few days of the year. We opted to forego exchanging presents with one another this year and instead are offering the gift of our own time in service to others. We don’t yet know what that will look like, but by the time you read this, no doubt we’ll have created a food service of some kind for the homeless.
Do you, your office, your family and your friends volunteer in your community? Every one of the counties in this magazine’s orbit — Sacramento, Yolo, El Dorado, Nevada, Placer, Sutter, Yuba, Amador, Solano and San Joaquin — has issues that need to be addressed by people who care about where they live and work.
The new year is offering us the blessed gift of new hope. Opportunities abound for volunteerism, and at all ages. Will you be a part of that delivery system?
President and Publisher
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AmeriCorps, the federal program that recruits Americans
ages 18-26 for a 10-month commitment to national service, turns
30 this year. What do members learn about life in America during
their tenure, and what is their impact on Sacramento?
The closure of a 20-year-long homeless services program left a hole in our chain of homeless services, writes Sherman Haggerty in a guest column for Comstock’s. The local shift to housing first and the elimination of transitional housing have contributed to the rapid growth of our homeless population, he argues.
The latest point-in-time count of California’s homeless population shows that it increased at roughly the same pace as previous years, although it appears to have disproportionately affected Latinos. Experts say homelessness interventions are paying off but “the inflow is killing us.”
Comstock’s president and publisher talks about bouncing back from adversity, recovering from a setback and staying on course to reach a goal.
Comstock’s outgoing editor considers the Great Resignation and the ways the pandemic has reshaped how the world sees work.
In the past decade, there’s been an earthquake of distrust in the news media. Comstock’s Editor Judy Farah considers how we got here and why we need credible, unbiased reporting more than ever.
As executive director of HomeAid Sacramento, Amber Celmer is dedicated to empowering people experiencing homelessness.