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Holding Hands to Stand Together

Written by Neal F. Litherland. Posted in Uncategorized

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Published on September 28, 2010 with No Comments

Holding Hands to Stand Togetherby Neal F. LitherlandNorthwest Indiana is a very diverse area of the state, whose residents come from a variety of cultures, ethnicities, religions and occupations. On Saturday Oct. 2 at 6 p.m., residents will have the chance to show their acceptance of each other, to display their unity and to speak out against discrimination and hate crime at the 2nd Annual Hands Around The Square event in Valparaiso.

“I’m diversity, my family is diversity and everyone is diversity,” Christine Hisick, the organizer and originator of the Hands Around The Square event, said. “And I think that this event is the sort of visual focus that people who believe this can use to really get involved with the community.”
Hisick is bi-racial and she was adopted and raised by a loving family in Valparaiso. Growing up very aware of her heritage, Hisick was more sensitive to discrimination that she experienced and witnessed. She always wanted to take a stand, and try to bring the community together to stop such behavior. By organizing the vigil, Hisick may have achieved that very goal.
“I’ve been getting calls from all sorts of people who’ve heard about what’s going to happen,” Hisick said. “There’s a lot of enthusiasm for the event, and a lot of people have stepped forward to volunteer not just their time and their hands, but a lot of other stuff as well.”
Speakers at the event include Mayor Jon Costas, Superintendent Dr. Andrew Melin, Tom Isakson of New Creation Men’s Center, Carol Dahlen of Advantage Pointe, Javier Aguilar of Gloria Dei Mission, Pastor Rich Schmidt of Living Hope Community Church and Christine Hisick. Music will be provided by Planetary.
“I want to make sure that everyone keeps in mind that this is a vigil and not a protest,” Hisick said. “I’ve had some people call me who are all fired up and ready for confrontation. That isn’t going to advance the cause; it’s going to actually divide people. We’re using this vigil to bring people together, not to break them apart.”
The vigil is free for those who wish to show up, but there are a few things that are necessary to keep in mind. Each person is asked to bring a single candle that can safely be set on the ground and something safe to light it with. These candles will be set at attendee’s feet during the prayer/meditation portion of the vigil, and as such they should be able to be unattended for a few moments.
People are also asked to bring an inclusive, upbeat and positive attitude to the event. The vigil is meant to enhance peace, unity and diversity, so people should come with that in mind. People should also come prepared to join hands with others, and they should come with as many members of their friends and family who want to attend as well.
“Our goal is for everyone who attends to be able to link hands around the Porter County Courthouse Square,” Hisick said. “It’s a big goal, but I think that there are enough people who believe in the cause to do more than just surround the square. I think that if everyone whose interested shows up to the vigil we’ll have enough people present to completely fill the square with supporters.”
Hisick and others who are in charge of orchestrating the vigil are still trying to get as many volunteers interested as they can, and to spread the word about what’s happening. Regardless of a person’s religious views, sexual preference, ethnicity, age, politics or any other factor that could be used to divide residents of Northwest Indiana, an invitation is extended for everyone who supports unity and diversity to come to the vigil.
For more information on the 2nd Annual Hands Around The Square vigil, visit www.hatsvalpo.wordpress.com.


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About Neal F. Litherland

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All opinions, conclusions or recommendations expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Chronicle. Neal Litherland is a Valparaiso resident who has been a freelance writer for several years. A graduate of Indiana University, he holds a Bachelor's Degree in Criminal Justice. He offers advice on money-saving tips using common-sense tactics. He welcomes suggestions and comments. Contact Neal: neal@thechroniclenwi.com.

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