This has not been an easy year for our community, but the tremendously successful 19th Annual WSOY Community Food Drive last Friday spoke volumes about why the Decatur area is such a great place to live — we have so many people who care about others and are willing to help those going through a rough time. Due to COVID-19, the food drive switched to monetary donations only as a safety precaution. By 6:00 p.m. on Friday, the event had raised $600,000, which, thanks to the purchasing power through the Central Illinois Food Bank, was equal to 3.2 million pounds of food! That’s double the amount of food raised in 2019, which had a total of 1.6 million pounds of food!
While about every other event in the Decatur area has been cancelled this year, or gone virtual, because of the virus, the decision to go ahead with the food drive, but in a different way, proved to be the right decision. Many, many thanks to Brian Byers, Kevin Breheny and everyone who worked hard to make sure the 19th Annual WSOY Community Food Drive was a huge success and the need for it to be a success was never greater than this year because of the way our community has been impacted by COVID-19. The COVID-19 pandemic has restricted or shut down a lot of events and businesses in our community — but it can’t shut down the heart and soul of this city or its people. I’m so proud of all who continue to show what the Decatur community is all about.
• I’VE GONE very few places since last March because of being in a highly-suseptible age category in contracting the virus. Isolation at home and in my newspaper office, and a daily walk to the post office, have been about the extent of getting “out and about”.
I did go out to the food drive in Kroger’s parking lot, as I’ve done about every year since it started because I thought it was important for me to be there and, along with others, encourage people to give. Every precaution was taken to make sure that everyone who appeared at the drive, or on WSOY, would remain safe and I felt very comfortable with the safety measures taken.
Actually, after doing the City Hall Insider on Byers & Co., via phone since last March and making all of my contacts and conversations by phone or through the Tribune website and email addresses, it felt like a “reunion” of sorts to be on the platform with Brian, Kevin and Mayor Julie Moore Wolfe. I hadn’t seen any of them since last March and Brian also mentioned the long in-person separation. There is always a lot of anticipation and excitement for me at the food drive because I’m always on near the very beginning of the day’s broadcast, when the sun is starting to appear. I always have a good feeling about the outcome that would take place hours later because this community, and everyone working hard to make the food drive successful refuse to let it be “good enough”. It’s always amazing when the final totals are in and everyone is inspired by what has, once again, happened.
• IT WAS also nice to be able to stand and chat (fully masked) with Mayor Moore Wolfe after our participation at the beginning of the drive. Julie has been a good friend for many years and, chatting in person about the city, was another “reunion-like” experience. She told me that one of the most difficult parts in dealing with the pandemic is not having in-person conversations with other people. I would certainly agree. I’m happy for today’s technology but the in-person connections are extremely important. By the way, congratulations to Mayor Moore Wolfe on being elected First Vice President of the Illinois Municipal League. (There’s a story on page 6 of this week’s print edition of the Decatur Tribune.) Such honors show that our local leaders are respected and valued by important organizations. That’s always a great reflection on any community.
• SPOT ON — A few editions ago I reflected in my “Viewpoint’ on the late Ray Livasy, local bank president, who gave me encouragement with his kind words when I was getting started with the Tribune over half a century ago. Retired banker Milt Brahier wrote: “You were spot on in your article about Ray Livasy. I worked for him for several years and he gave me several career opportunities. Thanks for remembering him.”
Debbie Roberts wrote: “What a touching viewpoint this week about Ray Livasy making you feel cherished. Too bad more people do not do that sort of thing instead of all the hateful stuff on social media. Thanks for sharing!”
• I CONTINUE to join Brian Byers on WSOY’s Byers & Co. via phone every Thursday morning beginning at 7:00. I’m thankful we can continue to chat each week on the City Hall Insider, but also look forward to being back in the studio once it is safe to do so again.
Take care everyone. Keep yourself and the community safe.