Thank you to ‘the helpers’

Craig CookWhen times are tough, it’s probably a good time to go back to one of America’s most respected and revered voices: Mr. Rogers. And, let’s face it. We’ve had some tough times in 2020. I’m not even exactly sure what to call Fred Rogers. He was more than a TV personality. To multiple generations of Americans from all backgrounds, he became a teacher, authority, attitude coach, theologian and maybe even a long-distance friend.

And while he’s famous for asking people to be his neighbor or telling people he likes them “just the way they are,” this year I believe one of his messages rings through especially strong. Throughout his time on PBS and especially in his appearances after the Sept. 11 attacks of 2001, he would remind viewers of what his mother told him to do in a bad situation: to look for the helpers.

Even though he may have meant it for children, I think it’s also pretty sound advice for us grown-ups. In times when things seem out of control and we feel helpless, we can often look at the situation and focus on those trying to help. Ideally, I think we try to become a helper if we can. In those situations when we can’t help, focusing on the people in need will almost always add order to how we feel.

This year has had no shortage of troubling events, but with that, we can hopefully recognize all the people doing what they can to make situations better. Where there were wildfires in Oregon and California, there were thousands of firefighters doing their part to help. When devastating hurricanes slammed into the Gulf Coast, emergency personnel and aid organizations rushed in to assist those affected by the storms.

Since the pandemic hit, doctors, nurses and scientists have worked to study it, limit the spread and find a vaccine. Near the top of that list of helpers has to be our local educators, and I would be remiss if I didn’t recognize them for their efforts to essentially reinvent school this year. I would humbly suggest that in our own way, many of the community-based internet providers like HCTC around the country have been among the helpers as we’ve connected or upgraded the services to people throughout our service territory who needed broadband for work or to attend school online.

Even when we face struggles as a nation, as a state or as a local community, I believe there will always be helpers who work hard to serve where they can.

In this issue, we highlight some of those helpers and look at how they use technology to strengthen their mission. Whether through fundraising, recruiting volunteers, connecting with similar organizations or raising awareness of their causes, dozens of organizations in our region alone use broadband to do great work in serving their communities. As we move into what may be a very different kind of holiday season, may we all pause to give thanks for those helpers.