The Damariscotta-Newcastle Rotary wants to say thank you. The Lincoln County News wants to, as well.
Lorraine Faherty contacted me about two weeks ago and said the group formed an ad hoc committee to look at ways to support the community in this not-quite post-COVID-19 world through both shining a light on the burn out many people are experiencing and finding a tangible way to offer some extra kindness and gratitude to ordinary people going above and beyond.
Honestly, at this point, that’s all of us, just for showing up in whatever capacity is required.
It just so happened that we were already talking about encouraging readers to send letters of praise and appreciation to the editorial page during the month of November to bring our own light to those individuals, organizations, and businesses that often go unsung.
Typically, we refer “cards of thanks” to our advertising department. And if you would like the benefit of our design team to highlight your note, please contact Sarah Caton at firstname.lastname@example.org.
But during this month of Thanksgiving, you are also welcome to simply write a letter and send it to email@example.com.
As so often happens with good ideas, these two intentions found each other.
I met with Lorraine and David Lawrence, also a Rotary member, last week. We had a firecracker brainstorming session to come up with ways we could work together to bring some relief to the community.
Lorraine noted that at the beginning of the pandemic, there was an extra push to acknowledge healthcare workers, store clerks, first responders, restaurant servers, and so many others on the frontlines of keeping the community both safe and functioning.
The Rotary helped form the Lincoln County Food Initiative. The group bought gift cards at local restaurants, and donated them to LincolnHealth employees. Through the Rotary Million Mask project, they distributed masks to police, firefighters, and schools.
But, David noted, this type of conscious daily tangible support has waned.
COVID has dragged on through the delta variant, breakthrough cases, the strange politicization of what should be a for-the-good-of-all health decision, and a baseline of heightened anxiety that continues to weigh on us all.
Who would’ve thought almost two years ago that this thing called the “coronavirus” would become such a backdrop to our lives, despite Maine’s impressive over 70% vaccination rate?
But just like issues of homelessness, domestic violence, food insecurity, discrimination, child abuse and neglect, and general injustice do not go away when the news cycle turns to highlight another issue, this global pandemic remains a real problem.
And there are real people working every day in Lincoln County to care for the sick, keep the lights on, serve meals, and offer hope.
Many of them are burned out by now, if they weren’t a year ago.
David defined burnout as “physical and emotional exhaustion, cynicism about work, and self blame.”
How do we cope with this?
David and Lorraine suggested that LCN might include stories that focus on self-care resources, and strategies provided by therapists, pastors, and other helpers in the community.
Are you one of them? Do you know someone with some excellent advice for managing in this late COVID time as the days grow shorter and the nights stretch on endlessly to winter?
I invite you to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
But the basic, bottom line core intention for the Damariscotta-Newcastle Rotary and The Lincoln County News is our desire to say thank you, and to encourage you to say thank you, too, by writing a letter to the editor in November is praise and appreciation for your neighbors (individuals and groups), friends, even strangers. Did someone make a difference in your day, in your life? We hope you will share.
Gratitude begets gratitude, and good follows good.
“You have the opportunity everyday to say thank you … for wearing a mask, or going above and beyond,” Lorraine said.
Or going at all, I would add.
If you don’t want to write a letter, we hope you will offer your thanks personally, face-to-face, in the moment, without a second thought. It’s free, easy, and you never know who might need that extra pat on the back just to keep going.
“We want to stimulate extra thoughtfulness,” David said.
We all agreed what we hope to create is a “gratitude multiplier.”
Please send your thanks to email@example.com for inclusion on the editorial page in November. We will publish as many as we can leading up to Thanksgiving, and possibly even beyond. There’s always room for appreciation.
I will offer the first: Our reporter Evan Houk finishes up his tenure at The Lincoln County News this week.
Half of Evan’s two years at the paper was spent covering the news during COVID-19. That’s no easy task. Journalism is stressful enough with coverage of a seemingly endless stream of misfortunes. To do so masked, socially-distanced, at times on Zoom, by phone, and email makes it extra challenging.
In the short time I’ve worked with Evan, he’s never forgotten that the heart of any story is the people living it in Lincoln County. I know he will bring that same ability to connect with individuals to the Morning Sentinel.
From all of us at The Lincoln County News, thank you, Evan, for your time at the paper, for covering your beat with integrity and curiosity. We wish you the best of luck as you build your career as a journalist.