Embrace Diversity With Stedman Graham

It took me a long time to move out and away from the bad things in my life and embrace the good things -- to transcend my past. Only from that point on was I truly able to move into my imagination and my possibilities and my identity. But it's an ongoing process. If I execute it every single day, it will be reinforced and much more effective. If I don't, I fall back into old traps.

Continuing reinforcement of positive values is paramount to anyone's transformation.

Though my home base is now in Chicago, I return to Whitesboro several times a year. Over the years, the more I thought about what I've received in wisdom and perspective from this distinctive New Jersey town, the more I knew I must give something back. So when I came back to town in 1989, it was with an agenda: to form a nonprofit grassroots organization called Concerned Citizens of Whitesboro.

In the original spirit of community pride instilled by town founder George White, I felt an obligation to aid in the town's social and economic revival. Through Concerned Citizens, we members seek to raise money and form partnerships with the county, the community, and several local organizations to help restore the vitality of Whitesboro. We have added streetlights, fixed sidewalks, and shored up aging infrastructure, as well as built voter registration programs, senior citizens' programs, family support services, recreational programs, scholarship programs, and other educational opportunities for youth.

Our overall goal is to help "the Boro" transform, stay vital, and welcome systemic change that will lead to stronger leadership and a healthier community.

Through Concerned Citizens under the leadership of a man named Bernie Blanks, and with the support of the committee and local residents, we continue to make a concerted effort to preserve and promote local pride in the town's unusual history and distinctive character. From the beginning of this effort, we wanted to stand up for our community and help give it representation.

Without that reinforcement, advocacy, and commitment, Whitesboro could descend to the status of a "second-class citizen" town. We owe it to George Henry White and the original settlers of Whitesboro to honor their founding ethics and not let that happen.

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