As I celebrated 34 years with the City of Lawton this week, many emotions came over me – pride, nostalgia, happiness, loyalty. Perhaps most powerful, however, was most familiar: Gratitude.
I’ve been fortunate enough to spend more than three decades doing what I love, serving a people I admire and working in an ever-changing environment that has allowed me to teach and be taught each day. Lawton is a city of givers, doers and dreamers who work together for the good of this community and for that, I am thankful.
From the small business owners who work to give back nearly as much as is earned, to the civil servants working in below-zero weather conditions to ensure a timely waterline repair – the unsung heroes of Lawton Fort Sill are committed and many. They are the backbone of this community – a strong backbone which has allowed for so many collaborative efforts and community-minded initiatives to come to fruition over the last several years. Most recently, it was the Lawton Public Schools bond issue, which passed with more than 73 percent of the vote last month. The effort put forth by district and city leaders to advocate for our future generation was a win for the City as a whole.
It is those collective partnerships fostered throughout this community that grow our progress and prosperity. This couldn’t be any truer than in the case of Lawton and Fort Sill. Our names are now synonymous; we work to advocate and support each other. While our military neighbors can often be seen volunteering in some capacity at City of Lawton events, our residents are hopeful of the next MWR event they can support or troops’ homecoming they can attend. Our unique and accommodating relationship defines who we are.
In addition to Fort Sill, our nonprofit sector, arts entities and health community regularly join hearts and hands to cultivate, restore and develop. The volunteerism of Southwest Oklahoma is unparalleled and I write this during the time of year when it is most evident: the holiday season. Holiday meal donations to the City of Lawton fed more than 200 community members on Thanksgiving, and we had the largest turnout of volunteers, vendors and participants in the collaborative Holiday in the Park kickoff this year than ever before.
It’s amazing how much we can accomplish together.
For these reasons and so many others, I am grateful. For these reasons and so many others, I chose to build my career and raise my family here. For these reasons and so many others, I am Lawton Proud.