By Valerie Morris
Being featured in the local news is nothing new for LCCC student Bridgette Harvan, but she never imagined the response she would get after being featured in national newspaper The New York Times. When the article ran, one in a five-part series on the residents of Elyria, Harvan was highlighted as a member of the young generation trying to succeed in a town that has had ups and downs.
“I was very excited and very happy with the way they [the New York Times] approached it, the way they wanted to talk about things,” said Harvan. “I just wish they had another figurehead for the youthful generation in Elyria other than myself. I am excited, but at the same time I wish it wasn’t just me.”
The article ran on the front page of the New York Times, and was featured on the main page of the website. The response online was hurtful as strangers posted comments, examining her life under the microscope of anonymity.
“There were a lot of negative comments,” said Harvan. “With the world today, everything is a text message, everything is super fast, you make your comment, you make your assumption and then it’s gone. You don’t think about the emotion that’s actually going into someone who’s reading these comments when you’re talking about them.”
Some of the comments on the online version of the article dismissed Harvan’s determination to get a degree and make a better life for herself and her unborn child. Commenters called her a ‘statistic’ and that she would never make a decent living for herself. They underestimated Harvan’s determination. “Now I’ve got 109 people to prove wrong,” Harvan said.
But Harvan and her family couldn’t foresee the outpouring of support that was to follow the New York Times article. People sent money, cards and gifts to support the family and their diner. Visitors have flocked to the restaurant from Pennsylvania, Delaware and New York, among other states.
Harvan’s only issue with the story was the way certain facts about her life were portrayed, a reflection she said more on how her grandmother worded things and less on the New York Times writer Dan Barry. Her grandmother had mentioned Harvan’s boyfriend was unemployed and living at home, but Harvan explained he was there to help out his mother, who suffered a heart attack and was still recovering.
Harvan and her family are receiving positive support from readers nationwide, a fact that helps Harvan stay focused as she works towards her degrees in ultrasound technology and business marketing.
The New York Times article can be read by visiting www.nytimes.com, and entering ‘Elyria’ in the search box.