Living Democracy

Wasnick is grateful for summer spent in Linden

Hamilton in front of Linden's fire departmentComing to Auburn in the fall of 2015 I would have never imagined that I would be spending my summer here in the loving community of Linden.  When I found out I was going to live in Linden for 10 weeks as a Living Democracy student, I began to research statistics on education, poverty levels, and ethnicities.  The statistics did not paint a pretty picture of Linden.

However accurate they may be, the numbers fail to tell the story of the people who live here. I have never met more genuinely kind people anywhere I have lived.

Linden’s fire department is one composed of volunteers numbering close to 25 strong.  I was fortunate to call the fire department my home as I lived in an apartment built above the fire station. I want to say thank you to Chief James Creel and the entire department for letting me stay in their apartment.  During my stay with the fire department, I was able to participate in two fire calls. 

Growing up in the Northwest, you hear tales about Southern cooking and hospitality.  THEY ARE ALL TRUE.  I was fortunate enough to spend time with Kathryn and Joe Friday, some of the kindest (and two of the most gifted cooks) I have ever met.  I visited them at least once a week, and dinner was always a treat.  I was blessed to have spent time getting to know them.

Hamilton playing dominoesDuring my time in Linden I was fortunate enough to be put in contact with a group called Bridges of Faith, a cultural exchange program that brings Ukrainian orphans to the United States for a month in hopes of finding future families for the kids.  I ended up becoming friends with some Ukrainian guys who had come over as chaperones for the children.  At one point we had to escape the clutches of a ditch my truck was stuck in. One hour later we were able to figure it out. While it was stressful it was incredibly fun.

A lot of fun times where had at Linden’s Senior Center where I was invited to play dominoes each Tuesday morning.  The seniors in Linden are incredibly good at this game.  They are often counting numbers and predicting (correctly) which dominoes are in each hand.  The games last from 9:15 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

After playing dominoes I will often stayed to eat lunch with the seniors. Sitting around the table and talking with people about their lives is a complete blessing. I loved doing this each and every week.

My community partners, Pam Stenz and Brenda Tuck, have been able to provide a lot of guidance and help throughout my stay in Linden.  Without their help none of this would have been possible. I am so glad to have spent time working with two of the best people in Linden. 

Life in Linden was not always easy.  It was difficult at times being away from family and friends.  However, Linden quickly became a home and a family to me.

Hamilton's first visit to LindenA beautiful thing about Linden I appreciated is how isolated it seems from fast-paced life.  It seems as though all problems that existed outside of the community this summer did not interfere with how the community felt.  This summer has been a trying one for the country, but Linden took all the issues in stride.  I attribute this to the personal connections everyone has with one another.

People genuinely care about one another here.  Faith also is prominent in the community, and it influenced me. I have become a better Catholic because of it, and I am very thankful for that.

I am going to miss these people, this town, and the feelings I had when I was a part of it.

Last Updated: July 21, 2016