I am a Pittsburgh girl. Yes, I moved to Virginia at a very young age. I am a Pittsburgh girl. You’ve heard it said before that you can take someone away from what they love but you can’t take what they love out of them. You know, you can take the girl out of Pittsburgh, but you can’t take the Pittsburgh out of the girl. Well, I completely agree with that! I have breathtaking photographs of Pittsburgh by David DeCello on my computer, my favorite team is the Pittsburgh Steelers, and I believe if you were born there, the spirit and tenacity of that city becomes a part of you when you take your first breath. If you happen to move to the city, it hits you with the first breath you take while you’re there. I am a Pittsburgh girl!
There may be a few of you right now saying, “She is not going to make the city of Pittsburgh a Hope Influencer, is she?“ No, I’m not. I am however going to name a citizen of the great city of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, as one of my favorite Hope Influencers.
You see, there is this man, a native of Pittsburgh, who invited us all into his home to be his neighbor. He read us books, taught us about equality and forgiveness, and took us on imaginary journeys with puppets and trolleys. Yes, this man is Mr. Rogers.
I say “is” because this man’s legacy infiltrated our lives and culture and is more needed today than ever before. Mr. Fred Rogers was a Presbyterian minister who starred in over 900 episodes of Mr. Rogers Neighborhood. Each episode was filled with his genuine heart and love. He personally responded to each of the almost 1 million letters he received. Makes me think twice before I complain about my email.
He was known for his unconditional love and acceptance and even shared a wading pool with an African American police officer on the air when that just wasn’t done, then washed his feet. This man brought us hope while he challenged us to be better people and treat people with the respect and love they deserved for simply being human. He taught us that every person was worthy of that every singlLook for e day.
Yinzers, those who call Pittsburgh home, understand his legacy well and even have his statue at the juncture of the three rivers keeping watch on the city. (That's the picture above.)
As I write this, the entire world is in the middle of a health pandemic crisis due to the corona virus. We are all social distancing, self-quarantining and finding out how technology works in new ways to keep us connected and hopefully mentally healthy. We are being pushed to do what is uncomfortable for us to make sure our fellow human beings stay healthy. Isn’t that what Mr. Rogers taught us to do even if there wasn’t a major pandemic?
I know that this crisis has been hard on all of us in some way. In the midst of it all, I hope we will remember the words of one of the most quietly, powerful Hope Influencers of all time...
“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, "Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”
Let’s not only look for the helpers, let’s also be the helpers. My fellow Hope Influencers, we can do this!