Local residents reflect on the positives after a challenging 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic presented challenges to people in various ways in 2020.

While some were negatives, there were positives to celebrate.

The Tribune asked local residents to share the bright spots in the past year. Here’s what they said in their own words.

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Brooke Titara

Friday, Oct. 9, 2020, started like most days since March of this year. Little did we know it would end in one of the scariest nightmares that unfortunately many others were experiencing and had experienced.

We started our day at work, my husband and I. As the day went on, I learned my sister, Tiffani Bowman, was feeling and getting worse than she was feeling the week before. My sister a week prior to Oct. 9 went to be tested for COVID-19 and received two negative results. Although she tested negative twice, she stayed home and quarantined.

Fast forward to the week of Oct. 9, Tiffani became unable to eat, wash her hair and even stand. She wasn’t able to do the little things throughout the day that maybe you and I could do.

Later into the day, I called Tiffani, and I told her she needs to get to the hospital and maybe take her phone charger because although we had high hopes, I didn’t believe she would be walking out that night.

Within a couple of text messages after our short phone call, I learned she was about to be ventilated. I stopped getting texts back from Tiffani, and I knew it was done. My family and I along with many other people and their families were unable to go inside and be there with her. We soon found out Tiffani did indeed have COVID-19 and also pneumonia.

It looked really bad for Tiffani. We weren’t able to talk to her via FaceTime for a couple of days. Tiffani had to be sedated. It was one of the scariest things to ever happen. My sister and I are very close. We even work at the same place together. Being unable to be there physically and hold her hand was so hard — the hardest thing I’ve ever done.

Many sleepless nights and worries about how we would help take care of Tiffani’s bills soon melted away when we started to learn she was improving and many gave to her GoFundMe page. My thought was this nightmare could be over soon. Many people from all over had reached out that they were praying for my precious sister. That’s what I believe pulled her through.

We soon were able to see Tiffani through FaceTime, and it was so awesome. It was like we could breathe again. And even soon after that, she was able to get off of the ventilator and could call or text us back on her phone.

Then the day came: Oct. 19, 2020, Tiffani was wheeled out of the hospital and able to go home. Tiffani still faces difficulties even today from having pneumonia and her experience with COVID-19. But God is good, and he kept my sister.

Our hearts go out to those who may have lost family or a friend from this virus. But one of the things I’ve learned from this is prayer still works, and if God isn’t done with you, he will pull you out of any situation and sickness. Today, I’m thankful. There’s nothing too big or too small for God.

Melanie O’Neal

Mental Health America of Jackson County served 192 clients this year despite the pandemic. Generous donors allowed us to provide to our clients in a safe way this year.

The Arc of Jackson County had a ribbon-cutting ceremony at Gaiser Park in July for its first piece of wheelchair-accessible playground equipment. Collaboration is a win-win.

Amy Jackson

I started a nonprofit, The Sunflower Studio, and now feel like I have a purpose. With schools closed, I have been able to spend much more time with my kiddos. COVID made us really sit and think of what we want with our lives and what is important to us, so we are now adopting.

Shawna Arthur

Athena, a German shepherd mix, came into my life in October. It was the best thing I ever did. I didn’t know what it was like to have two dogs, but now, they basically wear each other out, and she has been the most positive thing I may have impulse bought. She was the best Christmas present I got this year. She is the most sweet, loving German Shepherd. I’ve wanted one for about two or three years, and I’m so glad she came into my life.

Cassondra Kelly

I survived eLearning as a teacher and as a momma of three in the spring all while my husband worked with COVID patients at the hospital. And the best: We made it through 88 days of in-person school in kindergarten, for which I am so grateful. There is a lot to be thankful for, even in times of struggle.

April Wilkerson

Our first granddaughter, Saylor Mae Fritz, was born Dec. 21 after our daughter, Kaley Fritz, battled COVID the last 10 days of her pregnancy. She was very sick, and we were all concerned for her and her baby, but God blessed us with the most precious healthy baby girl, and both are doing well.

Shannon Hunsucker

I was thinking about this the other day while trying to dig out of an “everything sucks” hole. I came up with lots. Here are a few.

Our godbabies were able to come up from Florida and spend a few months with us. This was thanks to virtual/eLearning. Anyone else able to find a positive in that mess?

My parents have both recovered from major medical issues that started in late 2019 and carried over into 2020.

I worked with an amazing group of people with Leadership Jackson County to complete a project that I had been trying to make happen for seven-plus years. It wouldn’t have happened without them.

And there was lots more on my list. 2020 really wasn’t so bad after all.

Debra Douglas

My grandson, Lorenzo Douglas Diaz-Mejias, was born July 19.

Carrie Adler

Huge positives in education: Schools adapting, teachers getting super creative. And maybe I’m biased, but Trinity Lutheran High School managed to stay in person all of the first semester. That is an amazing feat.

Technology has been so awesome during the pandemic, Zoom, Google Meet, Google Classroom, free online programs all aiding in the social distancing efforts, allowing students who are quarantined to stay up on everything the in-person students were working on.

This has been a great time to truly connect with our families and reach people on a personal level as things slowed down a bit. We have been able to evaluate what’s important and what our priorities are.

Lots of us finished home projects or learned a new hobby during this time. It has been different, but not all bad. It has been good to see people remember what’s important, to value “normalcy” and work toward getting back to that once again.

Cora Amis

I met and married my best friend. We both changed departments and landed much better jobs. John received Brownstown Officer of the Year, we bought a house and most importantly, we wake up every day and take a breath.

Missy Casner

I canned pickles for the first time and actually did it on five different occasions. It takes 13 days for each batch, so I had to welcome patience. I used a recipe from my longtime friend, Dorothy Helt. I changed a few things in the ingredients, so they are now called Md’s pickles or Dr. Pickles…you know, Md.

Missy Robinson

We got our second granddaughter, Ozzi Jo Miser, born Nov. 9, just two weeks after her daddy, Logan, was released from the hospital with COVID and six days after her mommy, Mattie, recovered from COVID. We were all so grateful she arrived healthy, and all, including big sister Kalen, who is 9, are doing well.

Jessi Hampton

2020 has been no doubt a rough year for everyone. Between quarantine, missing family, celebrating birthdays and holidays like we’ve never celebrated them before, I have to remind myself of the positive.

This year, I have made a lifelong friend, Courtnie Pullen. Between volunteering on Thursday nights at Special Olympics to just going shopping on a random weeknight, I am so thankful to have such a great friend. Courtnie and I met through work, and she has introduced me to many people I will always be grateful for.

2020 was rough in the beginning, but I am so thankful for the tough times.

Amy Sue Murillo Barahona

By the grace of God, he has blessed my family with the ability to be able to bless many families in need. He also has blessed me with the ability to help other organizations and provided me more time with my family. 2020 has been a blast.

Liz Crater

We went to Florida to watch the Space X launch, had plenty of family time (because my husband, Donald, got laid off) and we painted our entire house. 2020 has been rough, but there were several bright spots for us.

Danieta Foster

Made it through eLearning in the spring with a grandchild. Took time out this summer to camp. It’s easy to social distance while camping. Took many country drives, my favorite pastime. Bought a house, which was the last thing we were thinking about doing, yet the best thing we could have done for ourselves. Most importantly, I think I’ve learned to just be still, relax and let things happen — most of the time.

Jordan Richart

Jordan Morey and I went fishing together for the first time ever.

Ruth Hackman

We were blessed with a bountiful crop of produce, corn and soybeans — some record yields. The commodity markets have moved up and are at the highest they have been in a year. Blessed with good health and a second grandchild on the way. God is good.

Catherine Horton

The best thing that has happened in our lives is that we realized how blessed we truly are. We became closer as a family by eating all of our meals together, having family game nights and just spending time with each other. The “normal” life of running kids everywhere and eating dinner on the run was no more. We found out what is most important, and that is giving of your time to those you love the most.

Kendra Zumhingst

I had a procedure in my sacroiliac joint by Dr. Dec in June when the surgeries opened up again and started feeling amazing, so I was moving a lot. I have shed 55 pounds so far by moving, and well, not eating out. Two to three times a day clearly is not good for you.

Kelsie Rieker

My husband, Steven, and I began Rolling Hills Lavender Farm and had major success in our first year of sales. It was amazing to connect with so many from our community because of this little business.

Sandra Groenenboom

My daughter, Kayia Davis, lived even though the doctors said she wouldn’t. Forever grateful to God above.

Anna Thompson

My first grandbaby will be joining us in the summer.