To build a great person… It’s best to start early.

I’ve spent my entire adult… career, working freelance in the film and video business. In September of 1992 I went to Florida to shoot the aftermath of Hurricane Andrew. I met people who literally had NEVER talked to their neighbors… until the hurricane. They did not even know their neighbors names. I was stunned. I came home with the idea that it should NOT take a national disaster for people to become friends. We had our first “Neighborhood Party” a year or so later.

It would not be until 2001 before we got serious. My father and step mother were in their 80’s with health problems. My best friend and beloved brother-in-law Don Stoddard was battling brain cancer. Ronda gave birth to 4 children in 5 years. So in 2001… our first neighborhood party in our new neighborhood was set for SEPTEMBER 15TH. If you’re not sure about that date… 4 days after the attack on the twin towers.! Yeah… Who feels like a party? Cancel or Go Forward?

 Terrorists do not determine what we do in America!

We made the children of our neighborhood the focus that 1st year. Several of us pooled our money. We bought all the hamburgers, hot dogs, pop, chips. 5 guys brought barbecues. The even numbered houses were to bring side dishes. The odd numbered dessert. We have a candy grab, bouncy house, contests and … TALENT SHOW!

5yr. old Katelyn Barton sang the national anthem. The scouts did a flag ceremony. We had several girls in dance programs. Pat Barney sang “I’m Proud to be an Anerican.” Trina Lowry sang “Hero”. Incredible experience!” Whitney Houston has nothing on Trina! This will be our 15th year.

Why do I tell you all this?

Every year we have families, individuals, groups, friends and especially children perform to a packed house of supporters. Some of the acts are truly fantastic. Some… could use some work. But as my wife Ronda pointed out. We started this to become friends with the families in the 123 homes in our neighborhood. Now families bring their friends and their extended families every year.

But one of the greatest joys to come out of this for me was when Ronda pointed out that unlike school or serious recitals, kids can “Try Something – fun, silly or even serious” in an environment like family with almost no fear of ridicule but large enough group of (non-family members) to gain confidence with a crowd.

Last year we became… the Midascreek Foundation. We have our own website www.buildagoodhood.wix.com/midascreek We share how we started, the mistakes we’ve made, things we’ve done right and the benefits of “BUILDING A GOOD HOOD” .

But for me the real joy that has come from this and possibly the greatest value is watching our neighborhood children grow, succeed, gain confidence and become strong, vibrant adults. A child with 350 friends, supporters, and guardians is better off than a child without. The stories are far too numerous after 15 years to begin to share. But this is a tradition in our neighborhood that the adults enjoy/not bad… Kids live for. Building children is building and hopefully, saving a nation.

Carl Gundestrup