Saturday, January 5, 2019

How many ways?

A community booster benefited Newberg, my town, tremendously just last last evening. I'm still excited about the event. 

My spouse and I live in Newberg, Oregon, U.S.A. (Newberg is a town of  about 25,000 on the southern boundary of the Portland, Oregon metropolitan zone.) A few days ago a fellow resident asked, "Are you two going to the Oregon Symphony Concert next Friday?"

"What's that you say? The Oregon Symphony will perform in town here?" That was my reaction. I attend symphony concerts in downtown Portland, 40 miles north of Newberg. But here in the boondocks?

"Yes. Friday, January 4th. The Symphony will play here in town."

"What's the cost?" 

"It's free!"

Impossible, I thought. Lucy and I rushed to the Chamber of Commerce, the reputed source of the free tickets. "Yes," said the receptionist. "No charge." He gave us our two free tickets!

Well, the concert last night was great. The orchestra played shorter, less formal pieces than we normally hear at concerts in-town four times a year. The Bauman Auditorium was filled: the stage with players, the audience seats with hundreds of people of all ages, all modes of dress.

Harney County, Oregon, 1913
Photo in public domain via Wikimedia
Setting a precedent in accessible public music over a century ago

I couldn't get my mind around this. Free Oregon Symphony concert? Just unbelievable.

A friend explained: it's free every year. It's a gift of Mr. Austin back to the community.

Well, who's Mr. Austin? A local, who years ago founded a major dental chair supply business. Headquartered in Newberg. A friend of mine said, "It's his way of thanking the community." The 37 years of annual free symphony concerts is a terrific story of a man's contribution to the quality of his community.

Austin and his wife, Jean, contributed in other ways as well. The prime example is the Allison Inn and Spa. It's  for-profit and not free--far from it. But it does benefit Newberg through employment opportunities and by indirectly supporting local wineries.

You probably can think of people who benefit your community in amazing ways. I think of the Schnitzer family, donors to Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, the official Portland base of the Oregon Symphony. The Schnitzer family has been generous indeed.

People can be generous and should be generous as their means permit. If we cannot give money we can give something else: time, talent. As the New Year 2019 begins, you might list ways in which you do or can give to your community.  Jesus taught this pretty succinctly: Love your neighbor as yourself. (The Bible: Matthew 22:37-39.) 

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