Almost one year after the unfolding of the Jerry Sandusky sex abuse case, the State College community held an “Our Community Day” event to sign the Community Covenant — an effort to promote the values and healing of Penn State and Centre County.
Centre County Judge Thomas Kistler said the covenant includes ideas and words that revolve around honor, honesty and respect.
He said these ideas are universal and come from things people know their entire lives.
Anne Ard, director of the Centre County Woman’s Resource Center, said the covenant will help in the healing process from the case of both community members and students.
“What I love about this community is that we have the ability to respond,” Ard said. “To work to prevent tragedy by responding in positive ways. Maybe that’s not unique to us, maybe that happens a lot of places, but it certainly happens to us here.”
She said the covenant does not just work to say who the community is, but who they will work to be.
Ard said anyone who has signed the covenant has made a commitment to these shared values.
Perry Babb, the founding pastor of Keystone Church, said the community will renew the covenant annually.
“We are a community that values honesty, integrity, responsibility and openness and that prizes service contributing to the realization of these values,” Babb said, reading the first segment of the covenant.
Dr. Michael Flanagan , a family physician from Penn State Hershey Medical Center, who started the effort of the Community Covenant, said he had many patients coming in and expressing concern about the events occurring in town and the negative portrayal of Penn State in the media.
Flanagan said people were concerned about how the community was being redefined and said it was not concurrent with the reality about the town.
He said when Mayor Elizabeth Goreham called a meeting about a year ago, it was clear that the feeling was common among community members.
“We needed to take back the identity of our town,” he said. “We want as many community members to endorse [the covenant] as they’re comfortable doing it.”