Banner Graphic/Eric Bernsee
Last Thursday, the newspaper had a rather exciting day. For me personally, it was one of the busiest I've had yet as far as time goes.
For starters, our Internet and phone service was out throughout the morning and into the early afternoon.
As we were effectively stalled, I thought it would be a good idea to make my way up to Wabash to watch Chapel Sing. It's one of those Homecoming traditions that can't be fully justified in a sentence. Essentially, freshmen from all the fraternities and independent houses gather to sing "Old Wabash" for 40 minutes straight. Here is a visual.
At 2:00, I was flying in the cockpit of the 1928 Ford Tri-Motor that visited the airport. That was one of those cool moments you don't get to have every day. I wasn't necessarily working as much as I was having fun at this point.
However it was what I was fortunate to be a part of at the end of the day that meant the most to me not just as a reporter, but as a community member. When the Banner Graphic honored 10 individuals who have enriched the lives of others in Putnam County, and have lived out a pure definition of service, I think something special happened that evening.
My involvement with the project was interviewing four of those individuals and getting to know them personally, rather than professionally. I asked them why they do what they do. Their stories and what they see every day are what struck me as to what they do best.
Jackie Hoffa, a custodian at Cloverdale Schools, looks out for students who are the most vulnerable and impressionable. Dr. Robert Heavin has devoted his career to developing personal relationships as he takes care of people. John Berry helps keep his community sustainable without any compensation or recognition. Randy Neeley maintains the food pantry at Livespring Church knowing that his generosity lets others in need know they are not forgotten.
Their inspiration to do more was akin to what drove the other nominees to be volunteers and community leaders. And they were all rather reluctant to be given the spotlight. To me, that is a testament to their character.
They are flesh and blood like you and me. They are not millionaires who step into that spotlight because it's there, or because they think they deserve it more than others. They keep their talents in the community they live in - where it counts. They don't talk just to sound concerned. They do because they can, and because they recognize a need.
To me, the banquet last Thursday night demonstrated #smalltownpr put into action, because we let the difference makers know that they do not do this alone. I hope that we have inspired others in Putnam County to get involved.
I give credit to Jared and our publisher Chris Pruett for spearheading this wonderful program, and I am proud as the small-town reporter to have shared their stories.