The True Meaning Of Community
Published: November 5th, 2009
By: Melissa Stagnaro

The true meaning of community

Since returning to this area last year, I’ve done some reflecting on what it means to be part of a community. I thought I had a pretty good idea of the concept as a whole, until this past weekend, when I had a chance to truly see what a community can accomplish when they come together. And I have to say that I’ve never been more proud to call this or any community my home.

At its heart, a community is defined by what brings people together. No matter how diverse the group, it’s how we are brought together by shared interests or a shared history, or even a common geographic location. As we look back through history, it is evident that few things can unite us all better than a common cause.

This weekend, in Oxford, that cause was supporting Todd Harvey and his family.

For those of you who don’t know Todd – and I didn’t before Friday night – he is a 23-year old Greene graduate in the midst of a knock-out, drag-out fight with an aggressive form of cancer. Scratch that. It’s not just a fight, or even a battle – what he’s really fighting is a war against these insidious cancer cells.

He’s got allies, of course – his family and friends have been with him every step of the way. Not to mention teams of doctors and medical professionals at each of the cancer treatment facilities where he has been treated. But he’s got a few other people in his corner as well. OK, maybe more than a few. Based on the turnout this weekend, I’d say he’s got the entire communities of Oxford and Greene on his side, as well as every volunteer fire department in Chenango County.

You might be wondering why these groups in particular are involved with this effort to provide both financial and emotional support for this young man. Let me explain.

Todd grew up in Oxford, and graduated from Greene. While he has never himself been a volunteer, the Oxford Fire Department considers him one of their own, by virtue of the service of both his father, Bill, and his grandfather, Bill Sr.

And, as evidenced by the efforts they put into this weekend, when the Oxford Fire Department says they take care of their own, they mean it. In less than two months, they planned, organized and executed a three-day fundraising effort incorporating at least 10 different events. They had help, of course, from other groups also interested in helping Todd, including the Red Knights Motorcycle Club, the American Legion, fire departments from across the county and Bill Harvey’s co-workers at Preferred Mutual Insurance, just to name a few.

Over the three days, hundreds (and hundreds) of people attended the benefit. Whether they were there for the Cruise In, the auction, the golf tournament, the live music, the food, the sumo wrestling, the poker run, the breakfast (426 people served during that alone!), they were all there for one reason: to support Todd and his family.

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