Michelle Mann

Community journalism is, by definition, locally owned, locally focused professional news coverage that features our neighbors in our cities rather than the national or world news.

At The Southeast Sun and Daleville Sun Courier, we take the commitment to “community” seriously.

As the COVID-19 pandemic becomes a household word and the planet is forced to think outside the proverbial box, your hometown newspaper has been humbled to share the stories of the local people helping local people.

It is one thing to be flexible. It is a whole other thing to be flexible in an emergency situation that changes like a revolving door.

Whether it is providing food for school children who depended on nutritious meals at their respective schools, whether it is local volunteers initiating the distribution of literally 18 tons of produce donated by a food produce distributing corporation or whether it is local businesses providing hundreds of meals to first responders and health care workers.

Whether it is community-minded citizens donating material to be sewn into face masks or whether it is community-minded citizens donating their time and talent to making those masks to be distributed at no charge.

Whether it is educators driving in caravans through the neighborhoods that their students are now quarantined in with spirit lifting encouragement or whether it is those reading story books on Facebook Live for youngsters who are adding “social distancing” to their vocabularies.

Whether it is churches reaching out to their congregations in this most holy of Christian seasons through innovative means or whether it is county governments creating internet capability for students who will go to school in classes without walls.

Whether it is the commander of neighboring Fort Rucker holding a news conference on Facebook Live to give a status update on the Home of Army Aviation and reassure a civilian community that they continue dialogue with area mayors or whether it is the local mayors giving similar reassuring updates for their citizens.

Whether it is the tireless efforts of the Emergency Management Agencies in the counties The Southeast Sun and Daleville Sun Courier serve providing continuing updates or whether it is co-workers at the aforementioned publications working tirelessly to disseminate accurate information.

All these and more are why we do what we do. It is said that news reporting is the first draft of history. We take that responsibility seriously. For those who depend on us to be a credible source of local news and for the advertisers who depend on us to connect them with the local community, we assure you that

strong community newspapers build strong communities.

“Shop local” has taken on a new meaning as neighbors support their neighborhood small businesses. Restaurant and store owners have had tough choices. Some have opted to close but seeing the flexibility of many has been awe-inspiring. Local businesses have decided that they can become a victim or a victor and have opted to be the latter.

“I believe this is going to be our finest hour,” is what Daleville Schools Superintendent Dr. Lisa Stamps told school board members as the system planned how to provide meals during the state mandated facilities shutdown. “We need to have faith over fear,” she said as she outlined the “priority shift” to feeding students. “This could be a very tragic thing—but I feel like this is going to be our finest hour.”

Three days ago Christians celebrated Easter, the day of hope and God’s promise fulfilled, in churches without walls.

“In the bulb there is a flower; in the seed, an apple tree; in cocoons, a hidden promise: butterflies will soon be free.” Those words from Natalie Sleeth’s “Hymn of Promise” are a reminder that despite it all—despite COVID-19—there is always hope of a new life and new possibilities.

“There’s a song in every silence, seeking word and melody; there’s a dawn in every darkness, bringing hope to you and me,” the hymn continues. “In the cold and snow of winter there’s a spring that waits to be, unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see.”

Michelle Mann is a staff writer for The Southeast Sun and Daleville Sun-Courier. The opinions of this writer are her own and not the opinion of the paper. She can be reached at (334) 393-2969 or by email at mmann@southeastsun.

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