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The Gift

On the morning of January 4, 2009 shortly after I had been sworn into office of the Mayor, I visited my new office in the borough building. To my surprise, someone left me a present! This gift might have made some people angry and perhaps that was the intent, but of course the interpretation would be based on the values and beliefs of the recipient of the gift! I decided since it was a new year, to follow the advice of an old saying, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” I turned the lump of coal, (my gift) over and over in my hand and was overwhelmed with a feeling of déjà vu.

This lump of coal reminded me of another time in my life when I was a young woman working in the coal mines. I was taunted, teased and bullied daily. I realize humans are resistant to change, but change is constant and must be embraced. I went to the mine each day, since I had no choice this was my living. However, I dreaded each day more and more. I kept hoping for a miracle and sense of belonging to occur. Women were not welcome in the mines at that time and perhaps may be true to some degree in non-traditional sectors today. It is hard to imagine it took a life-or-death situation for final acceptance. I provided care for an injured miner, putting my life at risk to help save his and finally accomplish acceptance!

As I begin my journey toward another life challenge, I must prove to the public, I'm a worthy candidate to serve as their state representative. I value public trust and will work as hard as any given day in the mine. The decisions of an elected official should be people centered and not politically driven. The life lessons learned over-time for acceptance will motivate me to serve the public with due diligence, civility, responsibility, and integrity. This lump of coal will remind me of where I began and will serve to motivate me to advocate for the people I serve.

Mary Popovich


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