The Power of Community

One of the first values I understood in my life was the power of community. My parents taught me the importance of giving to others, even when we had very little ourselves. The power of community can uplift all of those that it encompasses, and create ripples that last for generations.

This was a lesson I learned from my Dad when I was younger, but he never even knew he was the one who taught it. I grew up in the church in Mays Landing, NJ. My Dad was one of the seven preachers in our modest congregation. Like our church, we did not have a lot of money at home, but we understood that to be rich in generosity was far more enriching than having earthly possessions. Shortly after he lost his job, as we sat that following Sunday in the pews and the offering basket went by, my Dad reached into his wallet. In his wallet I saw two five dollar bills. I remember thinking, “He should probably hold off on offering this week”. Yet despite this, he took out $5 and placed it into the plate. In that moment, I remember a deep sense of pride knowing he was my father.

The next day a friend of his came to our door. I remember watching and listening to my father and this man converse through our living room staircase. His friend needed $5 to catch the local bus to work. I saw my father, without hesitation, reach into his wallet and pull out his last $5. His friend, with a sigh of relief, thanked him and left our home. My father then picked up his guitar and started playing-- as he always did.

Because of my father, I have decided to dedicate my life towards service to others. I learned that community is not just about sacrificing our last dollars, it is about having faith that tomorrow will be brighter, and protecting our neighbors did not mean we lost that faith. As your next Congressman, I commit to you that I will always remember the lessons of my father. I will commit to be a public servant that you can count on in your hour of need.

Robert Emmons