New year, new opportunity

Staff Writer
Woodford Times

A new year is here.

With a new year comes opportunity. The challenge with opportunity is embracing it and making the most of it. Here is a list of five opportunities that present themselves in 2010.

1. The Peoria Animal Welfare Shelter faces an uncertain future. It would be very reassuring to many citizens to see the services at the shelter not miss a beat, and that current director Lauren Malmberg is retained. The county has just begun the work of taking over the facility. The work of converting the shelter from city to county control rests in the able hands of Peoria County Board member Andrew Rand. Let us all hope financial stability, compassion and service find their way into the shelter. Rand and the rest of the county board need citizen input and support to make that a reality.  

2. The Salvation Army is nearing the end of its 2009 Tree of Lights Campaign with a goal of $1.25 million. It is an ambitious goal, but achievable. There is incredible need in Peoria for the services the Salvation Army provides — from food to shelter to spiritual guidance.

Generosity is one of the most admirable aspects of Peoria. Generosity flows — like the water in the river — through many Peorians, rich and of modest means. Give and let us all see this goal reached.   

3. A charter school in Peoria is on the verge of becoming reality or being dashed for the time being. District 150 was scheduled to vote on the issue Monday night. This could be one of the most exciting things to hit Peoria in a long time. Money is the thing receiving all the attention now, but this is an exercise in faith — faith in our children and our educational system. Faith in District 150 may be hard to come by, but faith in our children should not be. Find a way to get involved to make it better if approved by District 150, or to keep the dream alive if not.   

4. That same faith in our children needs to be expressed in Peoria Promise. This program, a favorite of Mayor Jim Ardis, is one of the most forward-thinking things to come out of city hall in a long time.

The investment made in our students through this program, which sends them tuition-free to Illinois Central College for two years, will pay dividends 10 times the investment. Everyone needs to dig deep for this program.   

5. Finally, strive to find faith in Peoria. For all its wonderful people, institutions, natural resources and talent, Peoria is a city with a gigantic inferiority complex. Peoria has one wonderful thing going for it. It is big enough to offer everyone something to get excited about, and small enough to offer everyone an opportunity to get involved. Find that thing that excites you and get involved. You, and Peoria, will be better for it.