Whether you have been here a month, a year or a lifetime, every day shows change in our Tri-City community that is so expected we hardly notice it.
Consider the very large category of physical growth. Neighborhoods of new houses spring up in cherry orchards. Quiet streets begin, week by week, to have more cars added here and trucks there, followed by road-laying equipment that in turn widens our rights of way, adds bike lanes and sidewalks and shortens our trips. With increased traffic also comes increased business, more needs and bigger population numbers.
Physical growth of any community is the most obvious thing about it.
But it is not the most important. The growth that counts even more than prosperity is what we do with it. The Tri-Cities has long had an excellent reputation for generosity and innovation — endeavors that improve our lives in ways that roads alone just can’t do.
Here is a sampling of local developments that show promise or success that is every bit as important as new homes, new communities and the attendant new jobs coming our way.
Special Olympics gets a new chance
Few programs tug at the heart like Special Olympics. The beloved program is in its 50th year, founded July 20, 1968 by Eunice Kennedy Shriver, sister to John F. Kennedy and his brothers.
The program was popular here in years past, especially with the encouragement of our local law enforcement personnel. But a change in responsibilities took local-level registration for the events out of the hands of locals and moved it to the other side of the state. There the program began to languish.
Thanks to renewed local efforts, especially the Arc of Tri-Cities, the Arc opened its new Special Olympics office on May 1.
There’s even hope that the Tri-Cities might get picked as the site for the 2019 games.
Special Olympics has proved to be a healthful, stimulating atmosphere for the young athletes who participate.
They deserve this experience, and the new organizational situation may be key to its renewed success here.
We expect it will.
Hispanic Academic Achievers
Almost 30 years ago, community leaders formed the Hispanic Academic Achievers Program with the aim of helping minority youngsters find better lives than their parents had, and sooner.
A scholarship program seemed the best way to accomplish that, coupled with encouragement of students in school but not yet ready for college.
From the beginning, the program was a success.
Hundreds of young scholars have passed from high school to college because of the foresight of HAAP’s program. It has been work all around, for students and those adults working with HAAP.
This year, 26 students received a share of $80,000 in scholarships to continue their education.
Hanford patient care gets an added facility
They’re from the government, and they really are here to help.
A joint effort by the Department of Energy, Central Washington Building Trades Council and members of Congress created the Hanford Workforce Engagement Center.
There, staff members will help former and current Hanford workers and their families find their way through the frequently difficult task of learning, in the first place, what help is available and, in the second place, how to get to it.
The center is located at 309 Bradley Blvd., Suite 120, in Richland. It is open 6 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday to Friday. Walk-ins are welcome, or appointments may be made by calling 509-376-4932.
In its first month of operation, staff members have already seen 609 people. That’s a great start.