There is something about this county. There is something about its people. Maybe it’s that I have lived here my entire life, that my family comes from the sand and salty air of the Absecon Islands, that I feel deeply connected to this area, so its people are my people. Maybe it’s that Atlantic County is the perfect area to live in. The beach is under 20 miles from wherever you are, the farms and their crops are readily accessible to us all, the woods are prime for hunting during the fall and winter, and the mountains are 2 hours away. There is always something to do. (If you doubt that, move to Oak Grove, KY and circle back to me on that one.) Maybe it’s that AC is always turned on and there is always fun to be had. Or maybe it is the resiliency that we have… the resiliency that “WE” have.
“WE” lost our jobs at the casinos. “WE” lost our homes and our businesses in Hurricane Sandy, the derecho, and the economic downturn. “WE” had one of the largest foreclosure rates among the entire US. But “WE” rebuilt. “WE” remained steadfast. “WE” persevered through the trials that we have faced, which have, at times, felt impossible to overcome.
“WE” did this all, because “WE” came together as a community.
I witnessed Pastor Tim Chambers of Fresh Start Church open the doors of his church during Sandy (as messy and chaotic as it was) to house 300 from the AC Rescue Mission for 6 days and feed and clothe community members for over a month. I recently had a conversation with Tim about Sandy and he told me that it wasn’t ever a question. There wasn’t even a pause to think about it. The moment he was asked to open his doors to his community, he said yes. Not only did the community pull together by volunteering their time, energy, and resources, but local restaurants and small businesses were showing up unannounced, bringing food and supplies by the truckload to make sure that “WE” were fed, clothed, protected, comforted, supported, and encouraged during that time. And that is only one example of “WE” in one of those difficult periods of our county’s history. “WE” did that, and as a result of that kindness, you showed us all that it is not every man for himself here… it is “WE”.
I am so proud of you, AC. You inspire me.
As a part of this community, I want to do what I can to make us economically strong for our children, our grandchildren and the generations to come. Instead of growing up and leaving to take their time, talents, and connections to another town that they have no roots in, I want my children and your’s to stay. I want them to begin businesses here, grow businesses here, support our economy, and make a name for AC once again. I will never run for politics, I’m just a small business owner who loves this County and believes that maybe “WE” have the power to change this place for the good. I want to help create a County that our kids want to stay in. The first thing we need: jobs. And guess what? No one is swooping in to help us, Atlantic County, so we have to do it for ourselves.
And we can. “WE” can.
Eat local, drink local, shop local, play local. Support our local businesses. Keep them alive. They provide jobs and opportunities for growth and development. They are created by our people. They are “WE”.
If you have an idea, create a business out of it. Just do it. Stop being scared of your own success, for crying out loud! We need remarkable entrepreneurs who are willing to do the work and grow businesses and companies here in Atlantic County. You can be a vehicle to provide jobs for our local economy. Take matters into your own hands. Stop complaining about not getting what you may or may not deserve, rise up, and take personal responsibility. “WE” are depending on YOU.
If you, dear “WE”, have talents, resources, connections, and money, I am asking you from the bottom of my heart to stay. Just stay. The taxes are insane and there will always be something to complain about in politics, but “WE” need you. You are “WE”. Your blood, sweat, and tears are here. Perhaps your family is here or from here. Don’t take that lightly, my sweet, ambitious, ready-to-run-at-the-drop-of-a-dime “WE”! Reflect on those memories that you have: playing “manhunt” in the woods of Galloway or Mays Landing, walking to Stewarts with your buddies in Margate, riding quads and getting into trouble at the pits in EHT, riding bikes around the neighborhood until the streetlights went off in Somers Point or Linwood, partying with your crew at the bulkhead in Absecon, escaping life’s worries by surfing all day on Cambridge in Ventnor, learning how to drop into a concrete bowl at the Brigantine Skatepark, getting your Christmas tree at the tree farms in EHC, or walking into your very first AC club experience and feeling alive. Remember the first time you were allowed to go to the movies with your “friend” (crush…sorry, Mom!) at Tilton 9 in Northfield? Or laughing all night with all of your friends at the Pavilion in OC? How about coming home from college and feeling that oddly warm, comforting sense of… home, which by the way, totally threw you for a loop because you just couldn’t wait to get away from Atlantic County.
Channel that sense of home. And stay.
I know that not everyone shares my view on this County. We wouldn’t be a normal Community if we didn’t have opposing opinions, but I would ask you to consider rejecting the negativity and drama that surrounds Atlantic City and County and seeing it for what it is. It is home. “WE” are your people. Give us all you got. Invest here. Build here. Stay here. Until next time, my dear “WE”, I am sending you peace, love and good vibes from my beach chair to Your’s!