Something special in Chuckatuck

Published 9:08 pm Tuesday, June 21, 2016


One of the problems the regionalists will always face in trying to shoehorn the cities of Hampton Roads into one little box is that each of them has a distinctive personality — and the natives of those communities, especially, can be loath to set aside the things that make their hometowns unique in favor of highlighting the things that contribute to a homogeneity.

Anybody who has been around what used to be called Tidewater for very long will have a certain set of impressions of, say, Virginia Beach and a whole different set for Portsmouth or Chesapeake. Few people would conflate their impressions of Norfolk with those of Suffolk. Each of the cities of Hampton Roads has its own character, and many longtime residents think that, in itself, is what makes the greater area so special.


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One of those things that we think makes Suffolk so different from much of the rest of Hampton Roads is the feeling of community that continues to exist here, even as growth overtakes much of the city. There’s still a sense here that neighbors look after one another. There’s still the fragrance of family in the air, even as “strangers” move in next door.

What’s been happening in Chuckatuck lately is a great example of how the old-fashioned concept of “community” continues to be honored, even as it is applied to folks who are new to the area and sometimes even by folks whose roots here are not necessarily deep.

Chuckatuck has circled the wagons in recent weeks in support of the Rev. Greg Ryan, pastor of Oakland United Christian Church. Ryan took ill during a trip to Hawaii, and a visit to the emergency room there turned into a diagnosis of acute myeloid leukemia. Rather than try to arrange for treatment there — with all the extra costs and logistical problems that would cause — he was flown across the country to Duke University Hospital for treatment.

But the special medical flight did not come cheap, and helping to alleviate the family’s financial burden has been the special focus of folks all around the little village where Oakland UCC is located.

A prayer vigil soon after Ryan’s diagnosis was advertised on signs all around Chuckatuck. Today, those signs advertise a fundraiser planned for the Masonic Hall on Godwin Boulevard there. Churches of all denominations have pulled together to support Ryan and his family.

Surely there are kind people in other cities in Hampton Roads, people who would drop everything to help out a neighbor. We suspect, though, that the kind of community spirit we’re seeing in Chuckatuck lately is something very special. It’s just the kind of special thing we’d expect to see in Suffolk.