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'Huddle up' and unite in purposeful works

OPINION by Melinda Gassaway, guest column | May 2, 2021 at 4:00 a.m.

"Huddle up, folks, it's time to get to work."

No, this is not a rallying cry for a new sports team, although it certainly might apply to the world of athletics.

In this instance, however, the pep-talk phrase is a fitting call to arms for individuals united in a common pursuit of bettering the world in which they live.

And it fittingly describes the ebullient and empathetic approach to life as seen through the discerning eyes of Brooke Baldwin, former CNN Newsroom anchor and author of "Huddle: How Women Unlock Their Collective Power."

Yes, the leading characters in this nonfiction work are female, but Baldwin's treatise on how women and girls of all races, religions, social views and backgrounds have found common ground on which to stand and proclaim their determination to involve all persons in improving the lot of so many others.

This is not an "aginner-men" work. It is an opus that encourages young and old alike to speak up and speak out for themselves and their beliefs and how they -- and we -- can do more together.

Baldwin, a Peabody Award finalist who holds a B.A. degree in journalism and Spanish from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and is creator of CNN's digital series, "American Woman," worked for years in the hinterland of communications before becoming a popular figure on CNN. She is grateful for her many mentors and appreciative of the opportunities she had to witness and report on how men, women, and children -- along with cities and towns -- coped with natural disasters, violence, and oppression, and how individuals dealt with a wide range of difficult familial issues.

Through the featured conversations in "Huddle," Baldwin permits her readers to listen in on the many ways different women expressed their frustrations, anxieties and concerns, and ultimately, how their dogged determination led to their getting thing done, regardless of the obstacles they faced.

Their struggles and successes reminded me of how every community of a certain size tries to address the needs of its citizens, especially in today's often caustic climates where distrust and doubt sometimes seem so very prevalent.

I want to think that if Baldwin were to visit Hot Springs, she would be impressed -- generally speaking -- with how so many of the locals have joined forces to do good works that have genuinely benefited our brothers and sisters.

It would be terribly naive of this writer to suggest that all is rosy in the Spa City. Of course, it is not. However, this is a place in which there has long been a propensity to "huddle up" and tackle troublesome situations.

Resort area denizens -- be they in business associations, nonprofits, on boards of directors or trustees, from books clubs, student groups, Sunday school classes and church auxiliaries, charitable or health agencies, tourism entities, and more have given us reason to hope for the best, and even more importantly, to participate in the process of achieving it.

Thank you, Brooke Baldwin, for urging us onward.

And thank you for reminding us that regardless of what our individual "huddles" look like, they make us all feel welcome and important.

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