The other afternoon l was going door-to-door in the Capitol Heights area on Fifth Street when I was greeted with: “What are you going to do for me?” The poke was the young man’s authenticity test, but it also told me a lot about him. He’s a smart, talented guy who isn’t ever going to be at a loss for words. My new friend told me how as a teenager he was incarcerated for 10 years on cocaine possession—a heavy sentence that’s another reminder of the wild disparities in sentencing, often driven by the twin measurements of race and economic circumstances. Instead of growing despondent, he chased and earned a CDL license after his release and now drives for a major trucking firm—walking a path of purpose.
I hear inspiring stories like this every day. They’re woven into the fabric of this extraordinary city. Life is never a straight line, and the purpose isn’t always clear in the fog. The people of Harrisburg are resilient, but are growing impatient for leaders who understand the need for an inclusive vision that says every life has God-given dignity and value.