What matters most is what you leave behind


Everyone leaves behind a legacy of some fashion as they move from town to town or job to job, yet no one can say with 100 percent certainty what their legacy will be.

That is defined by everyone they encountered during their tenure, whether as brief as a single day or as lasting as a lifetime lived in one place.

With today marking the end of my second foray into the newspaper industry, it is now up to everyone else to define exactly what legacy this ordinary man is leaving behind. Good, bad, ugly or indifferent, what has been done has been done and looking back, great memories clearly outweigh the regrets.

It doesn’t take much to see how much need there is throughout Kitsap County, whether it’s the increasing demand for basic food items at local food banks, sons and daughters being raised in single-parent families or by relatives or more and more people losing their jobs, their homes and everything they once thought would never be taken from them.

Both the Bremerton and Central Kitsap school districts are seeking volunteers to do something as simple as offering to spend one hour a week reading to a kindergartner or helping stock clothing closets for students whose parents can’t afford to buy new socks or shoes or even a warm coat during the winter.

Kitsap Community Resources, United Way of Kitsap County, the Salvation Army, the YWCA, the Benedict House, the Willow Foundation and a host of other nonprofit organizations are doing all they can to meet the growing needs of hardworking people, whose lives have simply been turned upside down through no fault of their own. Many of these people are your friends and neighbors you see everyday, but never see the real hurt they’re carrying deep inside.

What would it take to make a positive difference in these lives? Not nearly as much as one might think, because everyone has something they can do.

It might be as seemingly minor as providing a listening ear to a stranger, who has had what Judy Viorst termed “a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day” or as apparently generous as donating a cool $10,000 to a local charity, but the size of the gift doesn’t matter; it’s the intent with which it was given.

Mother Teresa gave all she had with a great sense of humble humility and never sought personal fame much less fortune; yet her legacy continues to inspire others around the world to help the poor. She never asked for naming rights or to be listed as a sponsor on a brochure or Web site; but she gave what she had anyway.

As of today, there’s nothing more I can do about the legacy I’m leaving behind. Hopefully it’s a positive one and none of it would have happened without all of you. Thanks for the memories.

Charles Melton can be reached at chmelton2@yahoo.com.

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