Trauma has a way of crystallizing what's important in life.
Last week, one of my dearest friends was hospitalized for five days battling complications from the COVID-19 virus. I watched my 32-year-old friend transform; days spent teaching, woodworking and playing with his young son are now filled with canes, oxygen tanks and getting winded from a 10-step walk to the bathroom.
It was five days of fear, learning medical jargon and caring way more about oxygen levels than I ever thought I would. Five days of tears and running errands and late-night text messages as a poor substitute for hugs and quality time.
An experience like that changes a person, and the people around them. It also clicks your priorities sharply into focus, like the automatic lens on a camera.
This year has been traumatic in some way or another for nearly everyone I know. The economy shut down and millions were isolated from friends and family. Those who still could went to work in uncertainty and fear. Outlets for joy and togetherness disappeared.
We grieved the loss of our sense of security amidst the deafening roar of a country grinding to a halt, and the bubbling resentment toward government shutdowns.
You might be thinking, “Gosh, how can I feel grateful after all that?”
That's a question many of us are asking ourselves these days. But there is room for hope -- and even when pursuing hope feels unnatural, finding it can be liberating.
Hope and gratitude loves company (even at work).
For me, finding hope amidst fear starts with gratitude. Gratitude starts with people. And when our metaphorical camera lens focused on what makes great local journalism, it focused on all of you.
Independent local reporting doesn't happen in a vacuum. It needs great teammates. We have a lot of them and frankly, we want to thank all of them:
• Collaborators bring our journalism to life. Thank you to the Solutions Journalism Network, the OH.Report, DRM Productions, iHeart Media, the Renaissance Theatre, Cleveland Financial Group, the Richland Area Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development, 419 Barbershop, Mankind Murals, Paragraphs Bookstore, OhioHealth, A Picture's Worth, Mahoning Matters, The Devil Strip, 1812 Blockhouse, Doc’s Deli, Uniontown Brewing Company, The Phoenix Brewing Company, WRDL Ashland, the Mansfield Art Center, and countless others I'm probably forgetting.
• Newsroom partners empower our newsroom. Thank you to DRM Productions, Mechanics Bank, Spherion Mid-Ohio, W.O.B. Accountants and Advisors, Adena Corporation, Area Agency on Aging, Gorman-Rupp Company, Park National Bank, Richland Public Health, Hedstrom Plastics, Hess Industries, Kleshinski Morrison & Morris LLP, McDonald's, RFME Insurance, Baker's Collison Repair, Ashland County Community Foundation, Goyal Industries, Hamilton Insurance, Mansfield Engineered Components, North Central State College, Richland Area Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development, Schmidt Security Pro, The Ohio State University at Mansfield, and Weldon, Huston & Keyser.
• National partners validate the work of your community news organization. Thank you to the Facebook Journalism Project, the Google News Initiative, the Solutions Journalism Network, the Rev Lab at the Texas Tribune, the American Press Institute, LION Publishers, Your Voice Ohio, A Picture's Worth, and Report For America.
• And our members are why we do what we do. All 971 of you. Thank you.
Every person or organization listed here, and countless others not listed, are the reason we can do what we do.
You're the reason we could tell stories of daily heroes, from frontline healthcare workers to princess tea parties. You're why I can safely work from home to protect my friends, family and coworkers. You're the fuel behind the holistic and nourishing local news experience we try to create that helps our city reach its true potential.
My dear friend is back in the comfort of his own home and recovering well. Gratitude has filled their home like a warm breeze -- gratitude for health, for comfort, and for people. Family, friends, chosen family and even strangers have surrounded them with support. That's the other thing about trauma -- it brings people together.
When we looked up from this traumatic year, we also found ourselves surrounded by the best people. It's not easy, but we're finding gratitude in the darkness.
We're moving forward knowing what's most important. Will you join us?