Transforming Hazleton through integration. While to some it may sound like a lofty goal, it’s one I believe we can achieve by working together. When we commit to accepting other cultures, we create a brighter future for our children.
I was born and raised in Hazleton and have so many fond memories of life in small-town Pennsylvania. I remember growing up in Hazleton in the 1950s and ’60s and seeing young people from a variety of cultures – Irish, Polish, Italian – playing together on sports teams.
As I visited my hometown during the past several years, I became aware of growing divisions between our city’s more established residents and its newcomers. I believe that these divisions are keeping Hazleton from growing to its full potential.
Then, while visiting a Hispanic daycare center in Hazleton and watching adults enjoy a meal while their children played together, I thought that this was so much like how I had grown up. And so began my dream for the Hazleton Integration Project.
I see so many similarities between my Italian and Polish relatives and the Hispanic newcomers in Hazleton: for one, they’re seeking a better life for themselves, their children and their grandchildren. To ensure that our beloved city prospers in the current and coming generations, we must embrace diversity and work jointly to unite our cultures.
We are a country of different cultures that have grown into one. That is the American way and it’s our greatest strength as a nation. The Hispanic population is just the newest group of immigrants to arrive, and they can help reinvigorate the community, increase business development and spur growth that is presently lacking.
I am grateful for the outpouring of support we have received for this initiative. With all of us pulling in the same direction, I know we will transform our city into a vibrant, active community once again that will make us all proud.