The Journal Gazette
Sunday, January 17, 2021 1:00 am

Community's foundation

Efforts to help one another survive pandemic inspire civic pride

Lana Keesling

Every New Year's Day, we establish our expectations for the year ahead and our hopes for what the year will bring. It was no different in 2020.

On Jan. 1, 2020, I took my oath of office to serve a second term as the city clerk of Fort Wayne. I had plans to work on new projects I discussed during my campaign. I had personal plans set for trips with family and time set aside to visit the lake with family and friends for the summer. Further, I had a goal to get into better shape.

My personal plans and goals for the year were probably similar to many of yours for 2020.

Fort Wayne couldn't have foreseen the impact the worldwide pandemic would have on all of us. Most of us were isolated from family and friends the majority of the year and only saw them in the virtual world.

We found ourselves struggling to find innovative ways to do business while finding a new normal while working from home. We endured food, toilet paper and cleaning supply shortages as a result of the uncertainty of the virus.

Many businesses, especially small businesses and restaurants in our community, fought to stay afloat. Some of those businesses and restaurants closed their doors, and many more are still fighting their way through this difficult time.

Many people struggled financially when their hours were cut or they lost their jobs.

Many in our community were affected with health issues related to the coronavirus, and many lives were lost in 2020 to the virus.

As I thought about my 2021 goals and expectations over the past few weeks, I found that my views on what is important are so much different for this year. My perspective was changed by 2020.

Instead of looking at 2021 and setting goals, I started reviewing what I'm thankful for and what I learned from the year just passed. My conclusion is that despite all the struggles we faced in 2020, our community came together to help one another.

Daily as I watched the news, read the newspaper and followed social media, I saw stories that showed compassion, love and support within our community. Not a day went by that there wasn't a story about someone coming forward to help others in need.

We saw an increase in food giveaways in our community, organized by churches and organizations. We saw increased donations to the nonprofits whose normal fundraising efforts were curtailed by the virus. We saw successful campaigns by individuals to support locally owned restaurants in order to keep them open. We saw many food delivery services offer discounted or free delivery to help restaurants, especially those in the downtown area. We saw patrons giving bigger tips than normal to restaurant staff to make up the shortfalls in their income created by pandemic restrictions. Finally, we saw several organizations providing food and drinks to our hospital workers and first responders as a thank you for keeping our community safe during the pandemic.

I chose to open a business in Fort Wayne in 1989 because I saw it as a community and not just as a place to live.

To me, a community is a group of people who care about one  another. A community cares for and watches out for everyone and everything within it.

Because I felt Fort Wayne was a strong community, I made it my home and chose to raise my family here. I have been in this community for well more than half of my life.

For 2021, instead of having expectations and goals, I'm thankful for our community, Fort Wayne, because we came together when it truly mattered.

Coretta Scott King said: “The greatness of a community is measured by the compassionate actions of its members.” In a year where everyone struggled, our community supported one another and helped those who needed it most. Our community found ways to serve others, and our community found ways to show appreciation.

I'm proud of our community. I'm proud to call Fort Wayne my home.

Lana Keesling is Fort Wayne city clerk.

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