Monday, May 20, 2019

Compassion and good will
trump all else in Montoursville

Apropos of nothing, and certainly apropos of no specific event that might be happening in any certain place today, I wanted to share, proudly, this letter that Dad received 44 years ago, when we were living on Mulberry Street in Montoursville, Pennsylvania. It speaks greatly to his fine character and the overall fine character of that small town I grew up in.

The letter, dated October 2, 1975, is from David L. Stroehmann, president of the board of directors of Hope Enterprises, Inc., in adjacent Williamsport. (Hope, founded in 1952, still exists and does much great work in northcentral Pennsylvania.) Here is the full text of the letter Stroehmann wrote to my father, John Alan Otto:
Recently I had the opportunity to read your letter in our local newspaper. It was most gratifying to know that people with your outlook are willing to take a stand for others.

As you are probably aware, the situation of developing a residential home for children on Tule Street, or of finding an alternate residence for the children whom we hope to serve, is not solved at present. As we seek to find a solution, your help and encouragement are greatly appreciated. Your letter, as well as others, provides us with the knowledge that most residents of the area, and especially residents of Montoursville, are behind the project.

Certainly it has been our experience that group homes which provide a family environment are greatly enhancing to the development of handicapped individuals who live there, as well as to those associated with them.

I wish to thank you sincerely on behalf of the Board of Directors, staff and children we serve for your positive comments. Be assured that we will not give up trying to provide residential programs for our children and adults.
Acceptance. Equality. Inclusion. Good will. Charity. Compassion. Standing up for those who need help or are underrepresented. ... Those are the qualities of the small-town America I was raised in and believe in today.

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