The place we call home has its warts, its shortcomings, and its problems.
But at the end of the day — or more appropriately the end of the year — there are a lot of reasons why life is good in Manteca, Ripon, and Lathrop.
It starts in the places of worship that are as diverse as the people who live here. We worship as Protestants, Catholics, Baptists, Mormons, Muslims, Christian, Coptic Orthodox, Sikhs, Seventh-day Adventists, Jehovah Witnesses, Jews, Lutherans, Methodists, Pentecostals, and more but then the faithful — and those that do not embrace a religion — come together to help the less fortunate in the community.
The common thread of helping those struggling is reflected in the support in terms of money and time that allows endeavors such as HOPE Family Shelters, Love INC and others to thrive as well as make it possible for various efforts to lighten the load of homeless children in our schools.
It is reflected in the 2,400 flags that unfurl nine times a year along Manteca’s main corridors to remember those that gave us what we enjoy today — soldiers, labor, and men like Martin Luther King Jr. It is shown in the reverence shown by more than 20,000 souls gathering over Memorial Day Weekend to remember the fallen and to thank those who are still living that served — and are serving — to secure our liberties and safety.
It fills the air with the endless sounds of kids at play swinging bats, kicking soccer balls, tackling ball carriers or just being kids.
Youth aren’t lost in the Internet. You can see them doing things all the time that are downright Tom Sawyerish such as sitting high atop a support pier of Lathrop’s Mossdsale railroad bridge across the San Joaquin River doing something that you can’t do with an app — fish.
You can also see them swinging from a tree on a lazy summer day and splashing into the Stanislaus River as it makes its way through Ripon.
And in case you have lost faith in youth, drop by a classroom in Manteca, Ripon, or Lathrop. You will see amazing things as kids are doing things that you never dreamed of.
The goodness is manifested in the hearts of those that jump at the chance to help someone less fortunate whether it is raising money to help them battle cancer, keeping the doors of efforts such as the Boys & Girls Club and Give Every Child a Chance not only open but flourishing as well, or helping with a community endeavor.
It grows in the fields and orchards that burst forth with “snow” in the form of almond blossoms reminding us that San Joaquin is the seventh most productive county in America when it comes to helping feed people.
Yes, there are bad times and bad things. But looking back the good times and good things dominate life in Manteca, Ripon and Lathrop much like the sun does a Northern San Joaquin Valley summer.
Keep that in mind as you take stock today and as you usher in 2016.
This place we call home is a pretty amazing place to live.