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A thank you dinner took place in December to recognize individuals and organizations who have helped the city of Smithers rebuild in recent months. At the dinner, a grant for $50,000 was presented to the city to support a community health program. Pictured, from left, are Sharon Lansdale, executive director of Wild, Wonderful, Healthy West Virginia; Smithers Mayor Anne Cavalier and Shelby Adkins, a grant-supported contractor to provide community health planning in the area.

We’ve just completed another trip around the sun as we begin 2022. Doesn’t it just seem like yesterday that we were excited about beginning the new century? And now, we’re beginning our third decade into the 21st century.

Lives around the world and the way we live our lives has been impacted by COVID-19 and its variants. Friends and family have been lost. Scary times, and yet, so many people we know continue to practice wonderful acts of kindness, neighborliness and community.

A few examples:

  • A neighbor brought us a huge and beautiful, live poinsettia … the second one.
  • Within the last month, area residents delivered over 200 newly purchased toys for the city to distribute.
  • Some of our family traveled over an hour each way to come to Smithers to play Santa and elves to distribute those toys at a Christmas tree lighting on the lawn of our new city hall and Gateway Community Center, a building donated to the city. A visiting cousin from Florida joined in the fun and organized toys for distribution and took pictures. The local motorcycle club provided the Christmas music. The Smithers Volunteer Fire Department women’s auxiliary provided and served the hot cocoa and cookies.
  • New Christmas lights through town were lit thanks to the donations of funds and electrical wiring expertise.
  • A friend and former resident volunteered to use her time and contacts to help identify and purchase exercise equipment to set up a wellness center in town.
  • We have new city welcome signs about to go up thanks to the painting and repair of the old signs by volunteers.
  • This past summer, individuals and groups outside our area provided free weekly activities and lunches at the Gateway Center for children inside our area.
  • We have a growing miniature fairy village that mysteriously appeared under a tree in mid-town that has become a fun, focal point. Volunteers and donors provided the grow boxes, plant materials and even a high tunnel for a community garden.
  • On Fridays this summer, we alternately had a Farmers Market and Plein Air Art Nights, all because of volunteers.
  • We have a volunteer Monday evening walking group organized and lead by volunteers.
  • We have a new electronic message board installed to keep everyone updated on what events and opportunities are happening; many of the funds to purchase it were donated and the electrical connection work was donated.

And the list goes on and on …

There have always been and there will always be scary things happening in the world. How people respond to those scary things determines the world we experience. Fred and I are so very fortunate to live in a part of the world where family, friends, neighbors, coworkers and even strangers take care of one another and the community.

I hope you had a Merry Christmas and make this your very best year ever by finding ways to make this a better world for everyone.

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