Does Garden Grove, a hard-up city of 145,000 that's struggling through depressed times, have a prayer? Well, yes, if everyone pulls together, according to speakers at the annual Mayor's Prayer Breakfast last week.
About 180 community and church leaders attended the annual affair that had "Discover the Spirit of Garden Grove" as its theme.
The Vietnamese Lutheran Church and St. Anselm of Canterbury Episcopal Church were honored. The Lutheran Church was saluted for helping immigrants resettle and for anti-gang work with youth groups.
St. Anselm of Canterbury was honored for the English classes it offers to immigrants and for helping newcomers bridge social and emotional barriers posed by a new country.
One speaker at the gathering, Police Chief John Robertson said his department, with 175 sworn police officers, is one of the thinnest in the United States for a city of more than 100,000. The department handled half a million calls last year.
But it has become "very successful" in its law enforcement delivery system through a program called "family policing," he said.
"Family policing is predicated on treating people like members of one's family," Robertson said. "I'm astounded by the way that humans hurt other humans. At the same time, I'm astounded by the number of people who step forward in support. . . . For every child that's battered, 10 people reach out to help."
Ed Dundon, superintendent of Garden Grove Unified School District, the city's largest business with 4,000 employees, said schools are plowing ahead, especially in mathematics, while undergoing major ethnic changes.
The enrollment used to be 85% Caucasian, 13% Latino and about 2% other races, he said. Now, it's divided roughly in thirds among Caucasians, Latinos and Asians, he said.
Students from Garden Grove who probably will attend college have attained the same relative math performance as earlier graduating classes, he said. Verbal scores haven't kept pace but the drop-off hasn't been alarming, he said.
Martin Patterson, president and general manager of Orange County Volvo, said his company has survived a sales slump and job layoffs because employees have pitched in and performed extra chores.
"Adverse times can pull you down or pull you together," he said.
Garden Grove Mayor W.E. (Walt) Donovan said that Patterson summed it up best. "That's what the city has to do--pull together," he said.