Midtown: Community

Midtown’s stories of helping, celebrating

My New Year technically begins smack in the middle of November. That’s when I become a year older. Always wiser, I become introspective and more in tune with being a better me with all that’s given, expected and required.

By now, though, at the close of the year, I look outside and around me, from various angles, to recall and digest how what I’ve experienced and witnessed makes me the person I’ll be when 2013 is the year.

What I learned in 2012 through writing about Midtown Raleigh:

We are a community that helps others, at home and abroad;

We are neighbors who share and celebrate what makes us talented, unique and smart; and

We are individuals who must always take a long, hard look in our proverbial mirrors.

No, it’s not much different from what we’ve learned about ourselves as a state and nation, relayed annually in year-in-review montages. This year turned our focus to disasters and mass shootings; gay marriage and electing a president; bullying and YouTube virility; a Mayan-predicted D-Day and a threat to Twinkies; and Olympic firsts and the demise of greats likes Whitney Houston to Andy Griffith.

The difference is what happened here in Midtown are our stories, made by us.

We helped

The Hope for Haiti Foundation hosted a Midwife Project Concert Series to raise money to hire two midwives in Zorangé, Haiti. The women of the St. Paul’s Christian Church’s The Mary Circle helped Montagnard families reclaim their family name.

At least 1,000 of us took to the streets and many more dug deep into our coffers for the annual CROP Walk Raleigh to support at-home and worldwide hunger-fighting efforts.

Organizations such as The Daniel Center, National Students of AMF (Ailing Mothers and Fathers) and Postpartum Education and Support – founded by Kirby Jones, David Fajgenbaum and Ann Wimer, respectively – introduced youngsters to science and math, helped college students grieve, and eased post-partum depression for new mothers.

Our neighbors held summer technology and sports camps, and the Raleigh Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc. launched a national initiative, Empowering Males to Build Opportunities for Developing Independence, to boost success among African-American males.

We celebrated

We began and ended the year in celebration of those of us who are embarked on fitness journeys to encourage more of us to follow suit, no matter from whence we come.

We learned about the strength and creativity of the arts program at Enloe High School, and met Enloe alum and author Jackie D, whose urban tales found root in a high school English assignment.

We were introduced to artists Julia Nieves, who “upcycles” fabric to make one-of-a-kind hats and other unique creations, and Christopher Terrell, whose Raleigh Art Festival shares local artists’ contributions.

We joined our Latino neighbors for La Fiesta del Pueblo 2012, the 19th annual festival that transformed Moore Square into a celebration of Latino family, culture and community sponsored by El Pueblo Inc.

We celebrated the success of two HBCUs as St. Augustine’s College became a university and the Shaw University Lady Bears won Raleigh’s first national championship since Jim Valvano’s Wolfpack in 1983.

We reflected

Our local and presidential elections had us taking long, hard looks at ourselves in the mirror, as individuals and as a community. We debated and then voted on marriage amendment laws. And we realized our preachers and big business just might play a role in the rights we have as American citizens as some black pastors, Chick-fil-A and Snoopy’s took partisan stands on issues unrelated to church, chicken or hotdogs.

We were reminded that young, African-American boys and men have to be careful practicing their freedoms when even national headlines told of native son Jonathan Wall’s charge he was kicked out of a Glenwood South bar because he is black. Then, 19-year-old Kristopher Faheem told us he was stopped and detained by Cary police saying he resembled a robbery suspect.

Much more happened to us, and with us, in 2012.

But by the time we bid our friends and loved ones a joyous “Happy New Year!” we’re best served to remember those things to better ourselves.