Column by David Cox
Not three months after we moved to the Valley in 1987, I got a call asking if our church could welcome, house, and support an exiled Ugandan bishop and his family of – get this – nine, in – get this – four weeks. “Impossible,” I thought. But the church, together with many in the community, rallied; we found a home, then renovated, furnished and supplied it, all within about 10 days. The impossible happened.
When the director of Yellow Brick Road informed me that a nearby preschool program was suddenly closing just before the school year began, imperiling youngsters’ preparation for school and threatening the child care that working parents relied on to hold their jobs, the idea formed of doubling YBR’s size to meet the crisis – within a month. “Impossible,” said many. But we did it. So when welfare-to-work provisions caused young mothers to need infant care that was not otherwise available, we accomplished that impossibility, too.
When cherished older members of our community started leaving this area to find care in their last years that they couldn’t find here in this area they love, the thought emerged of bringing such care to our own area. We would retain these people as congregants, clients, customers and friends; we could provide jobs; above all, they could remain in the region that was their home. “Impossible,” declared most “experts.” But now, Kendal at Lexington provides a home to about 175 people and jobs for 130; and its Borden Center provides skilled nursing care for those throughout the Rockbridge region. So much for “impossible.”
Now we face other challenges. I-81 is, well, I-81. The Shenandoah River kills its own fish. One of 11 Virginia bridges is “structurally deficient,” according to VDOT. Good though our schools may be, they are no longer the best in the world as once they were. Mental health spending, once 3.4 percent of the state budget, has declined to 2 percent, yet needs have soared, and as I wrote last week, will surely increase even more. Goshen’s water system failed last summer; how many other towns face something similar?
I could go on. It adds up to this: My generation received world’s best infrastructure from my parents’ generation. What will we leave to our children and grandchildren?
We face impossible challenges. So I hear along the campaign trail, especially when voters point to what the legislature is not doing … or sometimes to what it does (like pass off unfair abusive driver fees as a solution for transportation).
I understand the frustration. I recognize the danger of it turning into despair.
But I don’t buy it.
And “experts” say that a heavily Republican district will never elect a Democrat, even a fiscally-conservative moderate one who pledges to tackle these challenges head on.
I have more hope than that.
Over 20 years, I’ve learned over and over that this is the place where the “impossible” happens. It happens when people (a) see a problem, (b) band together and work together, and (c) actively share the hope that, yes, we can actually do something.
I’ve been thrilled and humbled to be part of making the impossible happen.
So now I take hope, hope which is as the Bible says the “confidence in things unseen,” yet which is based upon the experience of achieving the impossible.
I invite everyone to join in a new venture in hope. Together we will actually do something.
David Cox is the Democratic Party nominee in the 24th Senate District.