In its last New Year message, The Current reviewed some of the highs and lows of the previous year. Because of the pandemic, unfortunately 2020 brought more of the latter than the former, so this time we will avoid depressing our readers with such a review.
Instead, we would like to highlight the exceptional service that local residents have been fortunate to receive which undoubtedly has helped keep us here in the Madawaska Valley relatively unscathed by COVID-19.
Special mention should go, of course, to our local healthcare services that continue to demonstrate their dedication and ingenuity, with flourishing community paramedicine and the very successful Renfrew County Virtual Triage & Assessment Centre (RC VTAC). Hopefully you all wrote to the Premier and Minister of Health to tell them we want to keep RC VTAC even after the pandemic is over. The Madawaska Valley Family Health Team connected with more unattached patients. Physicians and other healthcare professionals offered remote appointments and changed in-office processes.
Despite far from perfect internet connections here in rural Renfrew County, education professionals, students and their parents coped with changes including online lessons during COVID-19 closures.
Of course, Valley people don’t just adapt – they step up, too! Thanks to the volunteer cohort that helped keep life as normal as possible during these abnormal times for their neighbours who were vulnerable, elderly, unemployed, short of food, without transport, or whatever their needs.
And thanks to our frontline workers who continue to put themselves at risk to ensure that our everyday necessities are available through shutdowns and varying levels of restrictions.
Also in the Valley tradition of helping our neighbours, the Madawaska Valley Food Bank stayed in good shape despite increased demand, and many individuals, non-profit organizations and service clubs helped make Canada Day, Halloween and the Christmas season as joyous as possible for local kids of all ages.
The Current experienced quite a few changes this past year. Being a primarily online news source, we began with “business as usual” but we had to adapt by March as more municipalities began meeting online or by teleconference. We temporarily suspended distribution of “communally-read” waiting room copies of The Current during shutdowns, and thank our distribution partners for helping us to promote our website address. Our email newsletter, published less frequently than we would have liked due to the pandemic, now reaches 1,100 subscribers.
As always we are extremely grateful to our talented contributors who provide content for The Current: the writers, photographers, illustrators, designers, webmasters, social media managers and all who help with print distribution.
Special thanks to our advertisers without whose support we could not continue to provide The Current as a free news source in the community. They understand that we operate as a non-profit. We are grateful to advertisers who joined us during the year although we must confess to being disappointed at the low number of BIA members who support us with their advertising. Hopefully this will change as they learn of the increased online readership of The Current which now averages in excess of 44,000 page views monthly.
Finally, a heartfelt thank you to our readers as The Current reaches its third birthday this week.
A happy and healthy 2021 to you all!
Danielle and Roger Paul
photo of Roger Paul by Timothy J. Baklinski