My Turn: The helpers you will find in the State House

For the Monitor
Monday, December 18, 2017

When we hear about the deeds of elected officials, it usually involves sordid details and not the myriad of good things that they may do for the betterment of the community or their fellow man.

I’d like to take this opportunity to highlight the deeds of two members of the New Hampshire House of Representatives, Mark Proulx and George Sykes. Both of these men have been in the House for a few terms and both are former firefighters, but it is their actions regarding recent natural disasters, and their humility in their response, that I must bring to your attention.

This was an unbelievable year for hurricanes; the amount of damage done and the impact on so many lives is almost impossible to comprehend. Shortly after Hurricane Irma did massive amounts of damage through the Caribbean and the southeastern part of the United States, Rep. Proulx deployed to Florida where he worked at a mobile hospital that saw hundreds of patients in a matter of three or so weeks. After being home for a few weeks, he deployed to Puerto Rico on a similar mission. Rep. Sykes deployed to Puerto Rico for six weeks and assisted the Red Cross in a myriad of capacities – trying to reach people to deliver water being arguably one of the most important tasks. Roads were washed out, power lines and trees were down. It sometimes took hours to reach people who were stranded, but his team pushed on.

What’s more impressive is that these two representatives have been doing this kind of thing for years. Rep. Proulx was in Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina; Rep. Sykes was in Haiti after the earthquake in 2010 that killed 316,000 and left over a million homeless.

Reps. Proulx and Sykes are humble men who care about humanity; one is a Democrat, one is a Republican. But when it comes to good deeds, it doesn’t matter how you’re registered to vote, merely what you do to help.

It reminds me of the story Mister Rogers told: “My mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ To this day, especially in times of disaster, I remember my mother’s words, and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.”

So this time when you see a story about elected officials, please know it’s a positive one, and one that I, as someone fortunate to work with so many dedicated and altruistic New Hampshire public servants, am happy to share.

(Paul C. Smith is clerk of the N.H. House.)