REMARKS AS PREAPRED
April 5th, 2016
Thank you, Brenda, for that introduction. Thank you also to Lynn Kneeland, the entire planning committee, the Food Drive agency coordinators, the Oregon Food Bank and to everyone that contributed to this year’s Governor’s State Employees’ Food Drive.
Oregon started as a state in isolation. Miles separated neighbors, mountains divided communities and months went without news from the nation’s capital (sometimes I wish that never changed).
Today, we’re still known for our independence. But time and time again, I’ve seen and heard of Oregonians going out of their way to make a difference in the life of another. You’ve probably heard some stories as well. Think of Alek Skarlatos. He used his training as an Oregon National Guardsman to prevent a terrorist attack on a Paris-bound train last summer. Or of Julie Stevens. For decades, she has used her Columbia Law school education to represent Oregonians in need in Coos Bay and across the state.
The point is, now more than ever, we need one another to get by. You may not be a soldier or a law grad, but you can still make a difference.
We are collectively confronted by a number of wicked problems. Problems so large that no solution seems to do the trick. Poverty, homelessness and hunger are three such problems.
There’s a mountain of statistics that show how entrenched these societal shortcomings are in Portland and Pendleton, in Medford and Madras, and in so many other communities. These are Oregon problems that demand Oregon solutions.
Thankfully, despite the depressing statistics, Oregonians will not waver in responding to these woes. Just as the pioneers went mile by mile, we will go job by job to employ those looking for work, home by home to house those on the streets, and meal by meal to feed those in hunger.
Have you all seen the bumper sticker that says, “Be nice, you’re in Oregon.”? I am humbled today to present awards to those who personify that niceness; whose efforts resulted in nearly 3 million pounds of donated food. These are the Oregonians that spread our reputation for engagement and compassion.
So thank you. Thank you for being a part of the solution. It is my sincere hope that your efforts will inspire others to be just as caring, selfless and generous.