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United We Stand


Ohman Family Communities
By Joshua Wallace, administrator Ohman Family Communities


What makes a company a company, the name on the building, the building itself, the industry it is in?  I actually don’t think it is any of these.  A company is made up of people, really no different than “the company” you invite for dinner. Yet there are good companies and there are bad companies.  I believe establishments that truly stand above the rest happen when those within are truly unified. 

April 20 marked the date of the Columbine shooting 19 years ago.  As I reflect on that date, one thing becomes overwhelmingly evident to me, the unity that resulted within our community.  It’s interesting that somehow our petty differences typically divide us, but then a large tragic event can truly unite us.  In this case, the Columbine shooting was one of the first major tragedies to catch national attention causing a united community and country. 

When someone asks me, “Where are you from?” and I say “Littleton Colorado” – nearly every time – the person conveys a long solemn expression. These reactions have become so common, I expect it.  I remember vividly the days following the tragedy at Columbine where two students entered the high school then killed and injured many. Prior to this event, our football teams were rivals. Their team name was the Columbine Rebels and we were the Chatfield Chargers. I remember going to parties where players from both football teams would show up. Usually a couple of minutes would pass then a dumb remark would result in a huge fistfight. Following the shooting, the Columbine kids resumed their education at our school in the afternoons; our classes were held in the mornings. What moves me to this day is the immediate change that took place in our relationships with those students. From the beginning of their attendance, we received – from all over the world – posters and signs of support; our hallways were covered with them. I remember seeing posters from kids in China. The most memorable to me was a sign blending our names “Chatbine Charbels”. The petty things disappeared and true unity existed. 

Recently, I was touched again by the compassion of people. This time, it was within our Ohman Family Communities. I was invited to attend a fundraising event organized for one of our own, by another of our team members.  Megan Ladow, a nursing assistant at our Briar Hill campus had been hoping to help a colleague for more than a year. She and Brenda Havel have worked at Briar Hill during the past three years. “Brenda is an incredible person with amazing faith,” she said. “I have been asking her to let us help, and finally, she was ready to let us.”

Some time ago, Brenda, a longtime caregiver at Briar Hill, lost her son. His grave site, in Kentucky, was unmarked and his immediate family did not have the funds available to finance a headstone. Brenda’s son, young husband and father to three, had recently been credentialed to serve as a minister. “The last time we visited his grave, we could not even find it,” shared Brenda. “He was a good man and he deserves a headstone.”

This past April, Megan, with the help of her family and others at Briar Hill accomplished an extremely successful fundraising event for Brenda. This amazing group of generous people raised $2,600 by serving a rigatoni dinner, offering 74 gift baskets for a Chinese Auction and they collected additional funds by canvassing the community. “I was thrilled by the response,” said Megan. “It was really impressive how everybody came together for this amazing cause. It makes you realize just how good people are.” Megan had never pulled off a fundraiser of this caliber; her family has some experience with catering and this of course helped. “This event was a faith builder for me as well,” said Megan. 

According to opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com, October 2012, “The act of helping others may seem merely compassionate and decent — but research indicates that it also produces important physical and mental health benefits for caregivers.”

“It melted my heart; I was overwhelmed,” Brenda shared. ”To think that these people did all this. I thank them all and love them very much, and … it brought peace to my heart.” 

Both of these examples convey valuable lessons for us. In the face of trial or tragedy, the petty things that divide us become non-existent; it is the everyday heroes like Megan, who really make a difference and people like her are the needed change for our world. It also reminds us, what we can’t accomplish alone, becomes possible with the support of others. 

Whether you are a company of soldiers, a company of employees or a neighborhood within your community, there is no difference, they are all comprised of people. When we rally around a common cause, we typically rise above the petty and accomplish great things. What saddens me is that it seems to take a tragedy before we value the important issues of life. If we make it our motive to take the time and with intentional regularity to look past our differences, we will then experience a connectedness and readily stand unified as companies and a society. 


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