Thanks for your help in making this possible

 

Favorite 2010 quote from my mail bag:

Hi Kat
– Just wanted you to know that Frances, the 97-year old you
wrote about, waltzed in here feeling like a celebrity after your
article ran! I said, ‘So you saw the article, I assume,’ and she
said, ‘EVERYONE saw the article!!’ – Cheryl Huguenor, Director,
Live Oak Adult Day Services.
Favorite 2010 quote from my mail bag: “Hi Kat – Just wanted you to know that Frances, the 97-year old you wrote about, waltzed in here feeling like a celebrity after your article ran! I said, ‘So you saw the article, I assume,’ and she said, ‘EVERYONE saw the article!!’ – Cheryl Huguenor, Director, Live Oak Adult Day Services.

It’s hard for me to believe, but this fall is my ninth anniversary of writing this column. As I embark on the adventure of a 10th year, it still feels like I have barely scratched the surface of all there is to tell in a community as rich as Gilroy’s.

I speak of a community rich in its cast of quirky characters, which includes unsung heroes, unpredictable crackpots, and underground do-gooders. Eric Von Forstmeyer is just one example. He carries equipment in the back of his car for picking up garbage and whenever he has the chance, he collects litter around Gilroy – five hundred pounds of it this past year.

When I wrote about the students at Gavilan College’s Disability Resource Center, I received this e-mail:

“I hope your article will be encouraging to people with disabilities in the community who perhaps did not know about our services and will now seek them. Thanks again.” – Fran Lopez, Associate Dean, Gavilan College.

Thanks to my column portrait, it can be daunting to be recognized in the grocery store at 2 a.m. and realize while chatting with someone who is peering curiously into my grocery cart that the only things in it are a 64 ounce bottle of vodka and a tube of Preparation H.

It is also inevitable that a day when I am wearing the ugliest article of clothing in my entire wardrobe will be when I will run into the most people who have ever recognized me in one single day.

When you voice your opinion in our country of free speech, it can be a bit intimidating to receive hate mail.

However, Gilroyans pen only the most creative and colorful kind. If I write any article that mentions the words “Muslim” or “Arab,” I have learned to be prepared for this kind of mail: “Evil men shooting rifles in the air, some wearing checkered head scarves, and dirty nightshirts are calling you home, Kat. They are waiting for you in caves and palaces with bullets, and explosives. Please go to them.”

But I find most people are good and decent folks who just want to do the best they can for themselves and others. My in-box is filled with positive mail, 99.9% of the time. After writing about an interfaith activity between Muslims, Jews and Christians in Gilroy, I received a number of letters like this:

“Hi Kat, My name is Judy and I am Salah Hamed’s (the one whose name means ‘righteous, thankful and bossy’) wife. I want to thank you for covering the event and for your positive article on the Abrahamic Alliance. Thank you and may God bless you for your kindness.”

When I first began the column, I would occasionally wake up in a cold sweat thinking, “How can I come up with 52 ideas a year to write about?” But the people of Gilroy soon took care of that dilemma. It wasn’t long until I realized that the interaction with readers in this community would give me more ideas than I would ever be able to cover in a mere 52 columns per year.

Gilroy is the part of our county that has preserved and celebrated its history the most. It’s the neck of the woods where the storytellers have the longest memories, and the place where residents have the most passion for good causes dear to their hearts.

I am grateful to readers such as Roxie Thomas, a volunteer at Saint Louise Regional Hospital, who reward my endeavors in a way that nothing else can.

“I do enjoy your articles … In this age of news reporting, your articles are a ‘breath of fresh air.’ Thanks.”

And thanks to the Internet, people read the Gilroy Dispatch from all across the nation.

“Hello Kat, my name is Kevin “Ugly Troll” Seymour. I live in Massachusetts and am a Ride Captain with the Patriot Guard Riders. I just wanted tell you that, as one of the “bikers with an intimidating name,” I am very pleased with your write up! Not often bikers get any good press, and it’s refreshing to read it when it does appear!”

And from even farther away: “I had the exact same thoughts as you expressed in your article. Thank you.” – Djenane Kamil, Cairo, Egypt.

I want to send out a big thank you to every reader who has taken the time to write during this past year. Thanks to you, dear readers, and your care and dedication to this community, it looks to be a long time before this columnist runs out of stories.

For more, go to GilroyDispatch.com, click on the “News” tab and click on “Teraji: Making Connections.”

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