I've been reading a bit about the history of Trumbull County. Our county really has a rich history, and it makes me a little sad when I compare that to what we are today.
I hear people who say that our best days are behind us. I have friends who feel like this place is hopeless - that it will never be better and will only just keep getting worse. Some have talked of moving away when they can.
I have to admit, we have some big problems here. We have public officials who have forgotten they are public servants. There is corruption and ineptitude in our public agencies. Our housing market is awful - compounded by the horrible septic rules. We have poverty, unemployment and a depressed economy. We have abandoned houses throughout the county. There are crime and blight in the cities.
Even in my little town of Farmington, I've been told the top three calls for the paramedics are drugs, suicide and domestic violence. It looks bleak even to a naturally optimistic person like me.
It doesn't have to be that way. One of my favorite Bible verses is Jeremiah 29:11: ''For I know the plans I have for you,'' declares the Lord, ''plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.''
Hope and a future ... Wouldn't it be great if THAT were ''just so Trumbull County?'' That's what we need here, isn't it? I believe it can be that way. In fact, in some ways, we have small glimpses of it already.
I wrote a column during the summer about the wonderful work that the Warren Family Mission is doing. Its operators don't just feed people. They help people to lift themselves out of poverty. One person a time, they are changing lives. By doing that, they are helping to slowly change the face of this county.
Another new organization is the aptly named Mahoning Valley Hope Center. It is working with the homeless and others to improve their lives. It offers recovery, education and wellness programs. Its organizers are planning to open a halfway house in 2013. Like the Mission, it is faith based and operates without government funding.
Individuals, churches, and other organizations all over this county are doing big and small things everyday to try to improve our area. That should give us hope and motivate us to do more as well.
This is the season for hope. Christians will soon celebrate the birth of a baby born to give hope to a lost and dying world. Not only 2,000 years ago, but still today, hope can be found. Hope comes from God, but He uses humans to impart that hope.
I think we all want ''hope and a future'' for this county.
It won't come from a government program or a political party or a candidate but from ordinary people who are willing to work to provide hope.
If enough of us do that, our hope and our future will follow.
Yoder is a West Farmington resident. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.