As year ends, Johnstown 'Message Tree' offers positivity


JOHNSTOWN- As 2018 comes to an end, many are beginning to think about their New Year's resolutions.

Officials at the Johnstown Area Heritage Association (JAHA) set up a message tree in hopes it will help the community reflect on the year they and the country have had, address what's happened and work to find a way to move forward.

'Museums are community places. We wanted to have a place for the community where they could write their hopes and thoughts and dreams for the new year, especially given last year was kind of tough," said Shelley Johansson, director of communications for JAHA.

Instead of new resolutions, including losing weight, eating healthier or learning a new skill or hobby, Johansson encourages to think about what we can do to make a difference in the world.

"We all can do things on our own level. What can we do to make the world a little bit kinder, nicer? How can we influence the world?" said Johansson.

Across the country, many innocent lives were taken too soon, some from mass shootings triggered by hate.

Seventeen people were killed at Majory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida in February. Eleven people were shot and killed at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, an attack on the Jewish community.

Every shooting, left local towns, communities and the nation grappling with tragedy.

"I think the new year is a natural time for people to evaluate what's happened and what can be different moving forward and how we can all play a role in that," said Johansson.

JAHA set up a message tree inside its museum gift shop on the first day of Hanukkah. Johansson said JAHA hopes community members will come inside and write messages of hope.

"I think when people read it they think, 'Oh, yes. This is something I'd like to be part of. This is something I'd like to share,'" said Johansson.

JAHA invites everyone to the museum on Broad Street to write their own message.

"The new year is traditionally a time for hope. It's a time when people think about their New Year's resolutions and what can be different about the year to come. This is, in some ways, a larger growth from that," said Johannson.

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