On April 30th or so, I posted a love letter to two people I didn’t know on one of the local Bethel Facebook sites. These strangers had been dressing up as sharks and dancing around town to cheer people up during the COVID-19 lockdown.  They would show up unexpectedly on front lawns to dance for children whose routines of school,sports, and friends had been stripped away so that they could remain safely inside their homes. I found myself scrolling through the many Bethel social media sites looking for photos that people had posted of the sharks shopping at Caraluzzi’s (my favorite), drinking coffee at Molten Java, reading the paper on a bench downtown, and more. When I started the Facebook group for people to post their shark-sighting photos, I had no idea what it would become. Within a few weeks, we had over 2,000 members and 50,000 posts. Sharky T-shirts, backpacks, masks, and more were sold, raising $7300.00 for The Bethel Food Pantry and Brotherhood in Action. Bethelites donated to a “shark fund” to support the gift-giving habits of the sharks. The joy these two sharks spread, the goodness of giving to those who were scared, suffering, and alone, will forever be appreciated. The ripple effect of their selfless generosity is very real and positive and if they never did another good thing in this world, that would be enough. But something tells me this is not the end of their story of giving. The shark family represents the BEST OF BETHEL’s spirit. They have unified and brought our town together during our most difficult days. 

For me, experiencing the pandemic in this wonderful, shark-loving town  has been profound. I have met the best people during a time when we were supposed to be apart. Being able to help the food pantry feed those experiencing food insecurity and partner with an amazing team opened my heart more than it has ever been opened. To those who participated in the sharky goodness, thank you. 

The Bethel Grapevine was born in the wake of the goodness that the sharks gifted our town during the Pandemic. They helped me connect the dots between adversity and character, with the former creating an environment in which the latter is discovered. My father used to always say, adversity doesn’t build character, it reveals character. Generally speaking, I have seen so many examples of our town’s giving and caring character through adversity. 

When I moved here in 1996, 3-year-old Scotty Anderson was sick. He passed away shortly after and over the next 24 years, I witnessed his amazing family’s The SCOTTY Fund raise close to $2M to help families going through unimaginable times just as the Anderson family did. That is the spirit of our town. 

In the 24 years I have lived here, I have seen many similar examples of Bethelites using a tough time to bring people together and comfort those who need it. This is a good place to be. 

I’m so glad you are here to enjoy the content and support our local businesses. Please feel free to email me directly if you would like to contribute content or share ideas of what you would like to see on this site.  Thank you for being here. 

With gratitude,

Hannah Lipman
Managing Editor
Bethel Grapevine, LLC 

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