There are a lot of words to describe 2020: exhausted and frustrated, chaotic to challenging. While every year, there are many lists dedicated to describing the past 365 days, 2020’s list ranges from a long list of profanities to simply being tired.
But the word I am selecting to describe 2020 and which I hope to hold up for 2021 is grateful. While there were many things that went wrong in 2020, there were still many things to be grateful for this past year and it doesn’t take much thought to create a long list.
For starters, I am grateful that we live in a community which looks out for one another on both the small and large scale.
The top of the gratefulness list goes to our front-line workers, especially those at Community Hospital and the McCook Clinic. It cannot be overstated how important it is that we have such a capable and professional medical facility and staff right here in our community, which is trying to keep us safe and healthy.
If there is only thing that we take from 2020 is renewed appreciation for our health care workers.
We should be grateful for our McCook Fire Department, police and EMTs who have worked tirelessly over the past year despite all the hurdles. And kudos to the staff at the Southwest Nebraska Health Department who were thrust into high-gear this year.
We should be grateful for the organizations, which have stepped up during this crisis to make sure our most vulnerable citizens’ needs are being met form the Family Resource Center to Mid-Nebraska Community Action Partners, to the Red Willow Ministerial Association, all working together to make sure resources are available for those in need.
We should be grateful for our childcare workers, who did everything that was asked to stay open so that employees could go to work and businesses could open their doors. And the list goes on and on to the grocery store clerks to the sanitation workers and to all the essential workers who never quit working despite the crisis.
And the list doesn’t stop there for those who keep this community going day-in and day-out, regardless of the pandemic, but who make this community a better place to call home.I am grateful to McCook and Southwest Nebraska for stepping up and making the 2020 Big Give McCook reach record numbers in its five year history and to Melissa Stritt and Lisa Felker and the Community Chest committee, who worked for months to make it happen.
I am grateful to Kyle Dellevoet, Jamie Mockry and Dan Miller and McCook Christian Church volunteers for stepping up to administer the “Cold-Hard Covid Cash” program, which pumped thousands of dollars into our local economy.
I am grateful for the McCook Community Foundation Fund, MNB Bank and Graff Charitable Foundation and several other donors, who funded the Covid-19 Response Account to make those programs happen. And then there are the personal things which made 2020 memorable and which make me grateful to live in this community.
Like the work of Jeff Gross and the entire staff at McCook Public Schools which made an in-person graduation ceremony happen for my Class of 2020 senior and the 100 other graduates. Like Mary and Dale Dueland leaving dinner on my front porch when my family entered its second “quarantine camp” this fall.
Like Staci and Jason Blomstedt posting free coffee and donut gift cards during the Reindeer Run at Barnett Park because they missed their fellow runners.
There are countless other stories out there of people doing little things to make life just a little bit better for their neighbors, friends and family. There are so many more people and organizations which I cannot even begin to name all of them of which we should be grateful.
As we turn the page on the calendar to 2021, things will not automatically be different, things will not automatically get better, things will not automatically change. But we can make things different and we can make things better if we are simply a little more grateful for one other, for our family and friends and for our community.
On behalf of the entire McCook Community Foundation Fund Advisory Committee, we are grateful to be part of McCook and Southwest Nebraska and we wish everyone a Happy New Year.