Updated: Jul 21
When I was 2 months old, my father died suddenly. My family quickly went from upper middle class, as my father was a business owner, to living in poverty within a few years. My mother ended up raising seven children as a single mom, without even a high school diploma.
Just before I started high school, my mother had the good fortune of meeting a Monroe lawyer, George Paxton, who sold her a tiny, 1-bedroom house on Woodland Beach for $50 down and $50 a month on a land contract. We finally had a home! I had attended over a dozen different schools by ninth grade. We were constantly moving, unable to pay the rent where we were and having to move on. I was a troubled teen, feeling I had no home, roots or friends. I was getting in trouble at school, skipping and getting expelled from school. I was hanging with the 'bad kids' and was heavily influenced by their attitudes.
When we finally had a home, simple as it was, it gave me a sense of belonging and I started making more positive and affirming friendships. The best thing was we stopped moving! No more being the new girl in school with no shared past or friends.
After about a year in our home, Mr. Paxton came to the door one night inquiring why my mother had not paid the house payment the past two months. She started to cry and tell him she had been very ill and unable to work. The little money she had was prioritized to feed her children over other obligations. I remember Mr. Paxton looking around my mother at us kids. He hesitated then said, 'Well, I’m not going to put your children out on the street. Pay me when you can.'
The hand up that empathetic, compassionate man gave us set me on the right path to becoming the person I am. I now had the security and life stability to became an A student, VP of my class and a leader in many areas of school life. I developed friendships I am still blessed with today. Eventually, I attained several college degrees, becoming a professional health care provider helping thousands of people out of pain and suffering, a business owner and a person always ready to contribute to my community. Interestingly, I ended up purchasing a house that is right next door to the house Mr. Paxton lived in years ago, and my house is bigger! Without that compassionate act from Mr. Paxton, I believe I would have been a high school dropout and a very unhappy adult, contributing very little positive to society.
My story is an example of how kindness and generosity not only benefits the receiving individual, but how a community benefits also. I have no idea if Mr. Paxton was a Democrat or a Republican, but he did share and practice democratic values.
These are core values Democrats hold dear: compassion and humanity toward others, fairness, generosity and kindness, justice and equality. Democrats believe we can and should make life better for families across our nation. Democrats stand up for the working class and all struggling to realize the American dream. Practicing these core values improves an entire community. The practice of these values gave me the opportunity to improve my community.
Linda Lauer is a member of Stronger Together Huddle, a group engaged in supporting and promoting the common good of all. She resides in Monroe and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.