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THE EDITORIAL BOARD

Making a difference: The sound of bagpipes, the beauty of haiku, and the determination to help

Teachers, musicians, public officials and more are pitching in to take some of the stress out of challenging time, or in some cases, simply to do their duty, whether it is collecting garbage or leading the county’s emergency services operation. As Fred Rogers liked to say, look for the helpers.

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There’s nothing quite as distinctive or stirring as the sound of bagpipes and these days, they’re blowing through Dan Ryan’s North Buffalo neighborhood.

A member of the Erie County Sheriff’s Irish Pipes and Drums unit, Ryan treats the area to a performance several times a week, walking the neighborhood streets in a kilt and other traditional garb and playing his bagpipes.

“People seem to enjoy it, and that’s why I do it,” he said. “Any kind of diversion is welcome these days.” It’s safe, it’s different and it’s wonderful.

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It’s National Poetry Month and Lisa Wright, a seventh grade English teacher at North Tonawanda Middle School, had an idea that would give neighbors a fun project, entertain walkers and help to inspire homebound students.

The key to this magic formula is haiku, a traditional kind of Japanese poem. Wright first texted her Kenmore neighbors asking them to write haiku poems – in chalk, on their sidewalks – then to take pictures she could show her students. Finally, she asked the pictures to be posted using the hashtag #neighborhoodhaiku.”

Here’s to haiku, to Wright and to all the other teachers who just won’t quit.

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Working as commissioner for the Erie County Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Services is difficult enough at any time, let alone as a pandemic overwhelms everything else.

The was the challenge facing Daniel Neaverth Jr. as the novel coronavirus beset Western New York. It became exponentially worse when he was diagnosed with Covid-19.

Despite being quarantined at his home and feeling as though he been hit by a truck, Neaverth continued to perform his urgent duties – finding space for the homeless, coordinating hospital efforts and more.

“You can’t just say I’ll see you in two weeks,” Neaverth said. “There’s just way too much to do.” He deserves the county’s thanks, as does everyone whose essential work exposes them to this illness.

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So, yes, look for the helpers. Better yet, be one.

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What’s your opinion? Send it to us at lettertoeditor@buffnews.com. Letters should be a maximum of 300 words and must convey an opinion. The column does not print poetry, announcements of community events or thank-you letters. A writer or household may appear only once every 30 days. All letters are subject to fact-checking and editing.

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