Making 2018 a year to remember

Sunday, January 7, 2018

It's been odd to have been silent for a couple of weeks but that's what happens when your column is published on back-to-back holidays. Hopefully all of you readers had the opportunity to experience the true joy of the Christmas holiday and then celebrate the beginning of a new year with loved ones, family or friends.

For me, I like to look to the year ahead and set some goals for myself to target going forward. Personal goals some of which I accomplished last year, some I didn't and some I will carry over to this year as well as work-related goals and goals for many of the community-based programs I'm involved in.

Some of these work-related and community-based plans afford me the opportunity to seek input from our readers and those I find myself working side-by-side with. So that's what I want to do this week. To help get my year started off right, I want to reach out to our reader-base in two capacities: One as editor of this newspaper and two, as chairman of the Grand Ave. Community Outreach.

In my capacity as editor, I really want to connect with our readers. That's why I began and continue to host each Tuesday morning Coffee with the Editor in the dining room at the Grand Ave. Community Outreach building. We get together at 7 a.m. each Tuesday for a little coffee and conversation about what's going on in Spencer, Clay County, Iowa and the world around us. As you image opinions vary. And with the collective group of "regulars" we have, things tend to get a little political. Sometimes they are very political, We have welcomed political leaders on the state and national front, candidates seeking office at many levels and leaders of a nonpolitical nature with an issue or message to share. And other times, we just talk and solve the world's problems over coffee in an hour or so. And most importantly, we keep it civil. It's conversation. There are disagreements, but it's not personal. And we're all better for having shared in the discussion.

Coffee with the Editor is just one way we are able to interact with our readers. We're always looking for more. Specifically, I am always looking for more. The Daily Reporter wants your input. We're appreciative of your readership and we want to serve the citizens of the area we reach, so I encourage you to speak out with story ideas as well as ways you would like to interact with us. Perhaps a live weekly Facebook stream where we bring in a local figure or get more in depth on a local issue or topic? A podcast perhaps? Just other ways to further build on our lines of communication with our readership to bring you the stories and cover the issues which impact our area.

On the Grand Ave. Community Outreach front we are also soliciting input on ways to better serve the northwest Iowa region. Currently we're providing food, clothing and free medical and dental services to those in need. But what are we missing? We're asking you to help us define the future of this building and the services we can provide.

GACO is currently reaching out to area agencies to develop partnerships which will allow the region to be best served. Right now we're looking for ways to help with emergency and transitional housing needs. Those partnerships continue to develop on a monthly basis.

One of my personal goals for the year is to see The Underground youth center at GACO alive and vibrant again. We're looking to renovate the center and get it back up to speed. Then we need volunteers to staff it during the week. I believe that if each church in Spencer would commit to two afternoons each month where they would provide volunteers to oversee the after school youth outreach, we would have it back up and going in no time flat. All it takes is a few caring individuals with a soft spot for young kids to step up once or twice a month, and the center will be back up to full strength.

Likewise we are always in need of volunteers to assist at our food and clothing outreach a day or two a month. It's not a huge commitment but it can make a huge impact in the lives of individuals.

Please feel free to reach out to me anytime you have questions, comments or would like to find a way to become involved in either the paper's public outreach or the GACO effort to serve.,

And speaking of service, for those seeking a child-based service program, I would encourage you to consider one of our local service clubs which cater to assisting children in the community. I lean pretty hard toward the Hy-Noon Kiwanis club. It's kind of a no-brainer for me. We have hour-long meetings with fellowship and a great speaker at noon each week on Mondays at the Clay County Fair and Events Center. You've got to eat lunch anyway right, might as well do it with some of the best people in town. And as an extra-added bonus you need to participate with a group of people whose primary focus is serving kids and meeting their needs.

Regardless of your interest, I would challenge all of our readers to find someway to become engaged in our community this year. Lots of people like to complain or tell others what should happen. I'm suggesting you take the leap and put yourself out there to help and try to make things better through your own work and actual input.

Looking forward to hearing from you. Make 2018 a year to remember.