The Ottumwa Courier

March 30, 2013

Progress: Those who make a difference

Reporter's notebook

Courier Staff Writer

OTTUMWA — In today’s paper, you’ll find our Progress 2013 special section. It’s packed with stories about southeast Iowans who are making a difference in their communities. These are special people who are doing special things.

Have you ever had to call someone out of the blue and tell them they’ve been chosen as a southern Iowan who is making a difference in the community?

Over the past few weeks, we’ve done that 21 times.

And we knew we’d chosen the right people when they replied, “Me? I know so many other people who are making a difference.”

Maybe that’s the point. There are so many people who have chosen to make a difference in their corner of the world. It’s our joy to be able to feature just a few of them.

The people who are truly making a difference in the world around them aren’t usually the ones who want the spotlight, but these are the stories that need to be told. In a world full of negatives, the positives should be put center stage in full color for everyone to see. When someone changes the lives of people around them, their efforts should be recognized.

After 21 interviews with amazing, giving people, here’s a little bit of what we’ve learned:

• Progress is always being made around you. Take the time to look for it.

• You can be just like a duck: Paddling furiously under the water while looking calm on the surface.

• There’s nothing more important than helping someone else have better quality of life.

• The local church is the hope of the world — a living, active body of Christ in the present world.

• Keep on doing what you do until you can’t do it anymore.

• When someone opens the door to their life for a moment, walk through and make a difference.

• Put your heart into what you’re doing, and it always pays off.

• Take time to honor those who have gone before you.

• Find what you’re passionate about and stick with it.

• Sometimes all you have to do is listen.

• Having a positive attitude is so important.

• Those who have been through a difficult time now have the experience to encourage others through their own difficulties.

• Give everyone the opportunity to shine.

• Have fun and try something new — you never know what you might discover about yourself.

• Look for ways to serve and honor those who served you first.

• Building relationships should be the foundation of all you do.

• Preserve the past while looking to the future.

• Teach life skills to the next generation, and you’ll change lives.

• No matter what your position in life, you have something to give back to the community.

• Balance of mind, body and spirit lead to a balanced life.

This is just a small sampling of what’s happening in towns all across southeast Iowa. And we are all reaping the benefits of their hard work and dedication.

Thank you for making a difference.