As we say hello to 2014, let's bid adieu to 2013. Like countless before, it was a year filled with exciting highs and disappointing lows, the fabulously inspiring to the annoyingly selfish and beautiful victories and heartbreaking losses.
I prefer to focus on the positive and shine a bright light on the good. Here is just a sliver of the past year.
HOPE SPRINGS: For about two years, the focus of HOPE has been to offer food and clothing to those in need. Hundreds of area families have been helped by this ministry group, led in part by Jeff Schults of Brentwood United Methodist Church. Earlier this year, he said: "This ministry has changed lives and provided hope to our community." For more info, visit www.brentwoodumc.org/bcumc/home
Antioch's Bedford Center offers another form of hope.
Spokeswoman Peggy Dillon quotes former first lady Rosalynn Carter: "There are four kinds of people in this world: Those who have been caregivers, those who currently are caregivers, those who will be caregivers, and those who need caregivers."
And, that certainly seems to be the focus of this facility, which has been helping elders for 33 years now. For more information, call 925-778-4171 or visit www.rsnc-centers.org.
MOB MENTALITY: Appropriately called Helping Hands, 500 folks chalked up 1,441 hours of volunteer hours in April at various East County spots.
Six locations were cleaned, beautified or fixed -- and, in some instances, all of the above. The annual event shows exactly what community pride and giving back is all about. Want to know more? Call 925-437-4963 or email Annette.Beckstrand@comcast.net
HOLE IN ONE: This past summer, Doreen Monroe combined her love of golf and the need to help a friend. The event raised a bit more than $11,000 for the ill Joy White, who has two elementary school-aged children in Brentwood. The money helps ensure her children are secure.
Since that event, we're grateful to report that White is in remission. If you want to help, call 925-699-7760 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
STAR POWER: This summer, Antioch High grad Anthony C. Ferrante found himself in the midst of shark frenzy -- and survived. His just-this-side of cheesy movie "Sharknado," which generated 5,000 tweets per minute during its TV airing, was the talk of the town. Make that nearly every town -- from Hollywood to the White House. The Sharknado Facebook page has more than 34,000 likes. Fin-tastic, right?
Then, there's Pittsburg High's Johnny Steele, who along with fellow comics Will Durst and Larry Brown hits the big screen in the "3 Still Standing" documentary, which covers the huge rise of stand-up comedy and its painful fall in the mid-90s. The film's focus is on this Bay Area trio of funnymen who are still tickling people's funny bones.
Said Steele: "You could be very creative, take risks, artistically, politically, and audiences loved it. ... And, folks loved it. It was a great time. I'm happy somebody is finally telling that story."
The movie is slated for release sometime in the spring. For a sneak preview, visit www.facebook.com/3StillStanding.
HEARTBREAKING LOSS: East County lost at least three sweet children from unforeseen accidents. But, as is it often happens in our communities, so many stepped forward and stepped up to help the families raise thousands of dollars, along with plenty of love and awareness.
RALLY TIME: When news of Gary Agopian's brain cancer hit, the community rallied. Facebook followers, friends and families immediately offered their all to the beloved family.
A huge fundraising event raised nearly $45,000 to help defray out-of-pocket medical expenses and support the National Brain Tumor Society.
"It brings me such emotion when I think of the outpouring of so many," she said of the countless acts of kindness, including "scriptures from God's word that are like a cool compress to our soul." If you'd like to help, mail a donation to 2408 Whitetail Drive, Antioch CA 94513.
Area residents and friends have also come to the aid of Rich Fletcher, who was a victim of a hit-and-run that left him paralyzed. It's the kind of nightmare you read about it. Only for this Antioch family, it has become a tragic reality. Fletcher continues his challenging rehab, and friends continue to fundraise for the family. For information on how to help, visit http://richfletcherrecovery.com/
PANTHER PRIDE: Antioch High (disclaimer alert: I'm a grad) knows how to seriously embrace its history and highlight those it loves. In November, Eells Field held its last game before a major renovation takes place.
To say farewell, some 100 alum (including some former football pros and wildly successful college grads) hit the field one last time and took a bow. It was a night of glory days in the very best sense.
In December, a tribute honored the recently retired Ron Molina. More than 150 current and former Music Masters, the veteran teacher's iconic choir, gathered for an evening of beautiful harmony, memories, laughs and tears.
The stunning voices were only upstaged by the stunning love for "Mo," the ultimate music man. For more information on either event, call 925-779-7550.
Wishing you all a beautifully healthy and happy New Year.
Reach Trine Gallegos at TrineG@att.net