by d. Wright
Building Bridges is a grassroots campaign that was founded after the tragic shooting death in 2012 of 14-year-old Wilkes-Barre GAR High School honor student Tyler Winstead. The intent which birthed Building Bridges is to try to create a community where people know one another, look out for each other. Based on what I observed, the event that was held on May 4th at Kirby Park certainly was a resounding success in that respect!
It was wonderful to see neighbor meeting neighbor, not realizing how near to one another they lived. I overheard people excited that they knew some of the same people, and that their children had been in classes together. The organizers had required only that people wear name tags and sign waivers for liability reasons.
During the day I had the pleasure of meeting 77-year-old Donald A. Raymond, a native Pennsylvanian, and our conversation turned to music, as the pavilion was being staged for a musical performance of some sort. He proceeded to tell me how he has played the guitar since he was a 14-year-old boy, and that he would walk from Montoursville to Williamsport and back every Saturday to take music lessons.
He told tales of his love of playing the guitar. After selling his trucking company, Raymond Enterprises, he was able to devote himself to music full time. He recalled times of playing with Conway Twitty, Ski Sawmill, and the Hughesville County Fair for many years. Donald still performs at the Muncy VFW at 7:00 pm on Thursday nights to play, as he put it, “some s##t-kickin’ music,” and is on the road three times a month. When asked how his wife—who operates Custom Wedding and Graduation in Williamsport—feels about him still playing so many gigs, he said his wife won’t let him quit, as she wants to keep him busy and healthy!
During our conversation, a young man came up to us with an adorable little girl and gave her to Donald. He told me that his daughter and son-in-law were in the process of adopting little Emily from Children and Youth Services (they also have a son, Luke), and the affection and patience he showed to an over-tired and hot little girl touched me. This exemplified what I believe Building Bridges is trying to accomplish: people reaching out and helping those in our communities who need help.
As they were leaving, I heard him softly singing, “They’re gonna put me in the movies, they’re gonna make a big star out of me.” I believe people like him and his family, who care about children and make a difference in their lives are already “big stars.” What a wonderful legacy Building Bridges is constructing to honor the memory of a fine young man like Tyler Winstead, and build hope for a better, violence-free tomorrow.