By Joe Morel
I was in the audience at the Town Council candidate forum held by the East Greenwich High School Civic Action Club on October 24th and something happened that I thought stood out as a highlight to the evening. The students asked great questions that helped the voters come to know each candidate a bit better as people, but I would like to point out a moment I captured in the image above. I am referring to the point when Sue Cienki (current Republican Town Council President) was at the podium. She shivered and told the assembly that she was cold. In response, Mike Donegan (Democratic candidate) actually walked over near the door and borrowed a jacket which happened to belonged to Bob Houghtaling, the Civic Action Club’s advisor, which Mr. Donegan then placed on Ms. Cienki’s shoulders as she walked back to her seat. As you can see from the faces in the photo, the Republican, Democratic and unaffiliated candidates all broke out in real heartfelt smiles, as did the entire room. It was a moment of natural decency and thoughtfulness that I found particularly inspirational.
It reminded me of another photo I had taken five years earlier almost to the day. The image is of my daughter, having a fireman’s jacket placed on her during an educational visit by the EGFD to Meadowbrook Farms Elementary. The following year, some of those same first responders would be the ones to rush her to the hospital to have emergency surgery as the clock struck midnight on New Year’s Eve. It was one of the scariest moments of my life and I can recall the level of comfort knowing that the people charged with saving her life were trained, caring, professional members of our community. Just out of frame in this image is an assembly of her classmates. A group of kids from families that have treated my kids as their own. Behind them a host of teachers and educators whom I credit as a significant influence into the kind children my daughters have become.
These two images symbolize some of the things I am thankful for living in East Greenwich. I think these are things that we can all relate and empathize with. These images and the acts of kindness I see all over this town give me hope that we will move forward together as friends and neighbors respectfully. We will work together to solve our current state of affairs because we are a community of smart, caring, well intentioned people who are family oriented and care about our own quality of life and the quality of life of our neighbors.
Joe Morel, a photographer, lives in East Greenwich.