My grandmother once told me that her favorite president was Franklin Roosevelt. She said when he passed away it was a very sad day in her life.

Roosevelt was a good leader for many good reasons. Perhaps the most important was that he projected a feeling of hope in the people.

We continue to look for hope in our leaders, like U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings, who recently passed away and who brought a lot of hope to his city of Baltimore. He recognized that hope is essential for the well being of every community.

I have the privilege of writing a column for the Pioneer and I have done so since 1992. Being a part-time writer I tend to notice things. I try to write columns that interest people. I especially like to write columns with a positive spin on them.

There are a lot of good things happening in Beltrami County. I know this because I regularly visit the communities of Kelliher, Blackduck, Red Lake, Ponemah, Redby, Little Rock, Clearbrook and Northome. I talk to business people, community leaders, educators, clergy, and youth leaders about the 100 percent movement. In doing so I learn about all of the good things they are doing. I especially marvel at those small business owners who are giants in terms of what they do. I am impressed with their work ethic, honesty, integrity but, more importantly, their hope for a better tomorrow.

Because I travel to Red Lake more than the other communities, I thought it would be interesting to ask the person on the street to identify good things that are happening in the Red Lake communities, things that give hope to a community. I asked individuals to tell me some of the good things happening at Red Lake. Space permitting I could have accumulated lots more.

As you read the list begin thinking about what you might say about your community. Maybe I’ll make a visit to your community to do the same thing. If you reside on the Red Lake Reservation, think about the many things not mentioned.

  1. There is a strong cultural connection between the generations. (Mike Haugen)
  2. We continue to teach the moccasin game. (Garret Caldwell)
  3. The basketball teams show good sportsmanship. (Estrella Bravo)
  4. There are more events happening at the community centers. (Shinell Barron)
  5. Youth went to hunting camps this fall. (Ron Sigana)
  6. We will be moving into the fire station soon. (Angelo Hart)
  7. The classroom teachers are using more Ojibwe. (Don Kingbird)
  8. St. Mary’s Mission School is expanding. (Lisa Brun)
  9. There are lots of activities at the Boys and Girls Club. (Andrew Jourdain)
  10. A new fire station was built. (Margo Schmitz)
  11. A lot more homes are being built for families. (Leda Scott)
  12. We have a new grocery store. (Brandon Beaulieu)
  13. All communities are doing good things for kids. (Sheri Clark, Jami Pankow and Melvina May)
  14. People are ready to cheer on the Warrior basketball teams and bus loads of kids and parents went to the Viking game. (Jenny Moen)
  15. There are lots of good things going on in the schools. (Jeremy Martin)
  16. There is a new Red Lake Community Center. (Mike Strong)
  17. They have begun to stake out the new church. (Miss Julie)
  18. This is the 4th year of the Ojibwe immersion program. (Tom Barrett, Jr.)
  19. We have a good convenience store at the Red Lake Nation Fuel. (Russel Kingbird) (I will add that there are also good convenience stores in Little Rock, Redby and Ponemah.)
  20. Fishing is good. (Willie Mountain)
  21. There is a new emergency room at the hospital. (Karen Cobenais)
  22. The Mission School now has mobile classrooms. (Mikey May)
  23. Giiwitaa Ododewisiwin (Circle of Family) is doing things to help Red Lake families. (Mike Barrett, Jr.)
  24. Red Lake Boys and Girls club are doing cultural things for kids: language table, drum group, and power hour. (Jeff Roy)
  25. The kindergarten kids at St. Mary’s are good in math. (Rachael Johnson)
  26. Red Lake is getting a Subway. (Rochelle Conbenais)
  27. The Boys and Girls Club uses Seven Grandfather Teachings. (Jeff Roy)
  28. The enrollment formula for the Red Lake Nation has changed for the better. (Ethel Branchaud)
  29. Elders are getting their flu shots. (Eileen Miller)

How important is hope to a community? Often people feel that the 100 percent graduation rate goal is only about graduating all of our kids. That’s only a small part. It has much more to do with giving kids hope. That’s what a diploma does. When kids have their diploma it gives all of us hope and that hope spills out into the community and it’s that hope that is the foundation for the good things that happen. Hope is cyclical and it is contagious. Let’s all begin spreading it.

(Thanks to the people who on the spur of the moment provided input into this column. I hope I spelled your name correctly.)

Riddle: Why doesn’t Michael Jordan sweat? (Because he has a lot of fans.) Your community will have lots of fans when you begin naming all of the good things about it.

100 percent graduation

Thanks to North Homes Children and Family Service, Wilson and Son Field Service and Giiwitaa Ododewisiwin (Circle of Family) for supporting the 100 percent movement.

Parents can help their children graduate when they:

  • Give their children hope by remaining positive
  • Have high expectations for their kids
  • Find the goodness in their kids

John R. Eggers of Bemidji is a former university professor and area principal. He also is a writer and public speaker.