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Unexpected Blessings

Mar 23rd, 2021

I am often amazed at how time changes and moves us in so many ways. In just a few short months, I will have been in Alabama for 8 years! It feels like just yesterday I arrived here, excited for a new start and terrified I would not measure up, there have been so many changes this past 8 years and I am blessed beyond measure for the opportunities it has given me in my job and my personal life.

This past year has been crazy on so many levels, with the pandemic and the adjustments that will remain with us moving forward. During that time we have become much better at electronic meetings, learning to work effectively from home, and knowing the way we were accustomed to doing business was never going to be the same. For this issue of Mary’s Minute, I wanted to focus on just three of the many unexpected blessings we had going on this past year.

  1. Each year we provide an annual report to our Investors, Elected officials, Main Street Directors, and other interested parties. When we started to look at how we were going to review 2020 - it became clear much more happened than you might have expected. The 28 designated Main Street programs did an outstanding job of working with their businesses during the pandemic, helping them to open safely, make changes in how they promoted their businesses, from offering curbside pickup to moving online with orders and sales. It was amazing to watch and a blessing to be a part of and the reason I love my job so much. Here is a link to our annual report from 2020, please enjoy the read, we enjoyed the ride! 
  2. As the year moved forward, the need for consistently beautiful photography became clearer. After all, we were having to communicate almost exclusively electronically through Facebook, Instagram, our website, etc. So, I started the hunt for a photographer who would be willing and able to travel the state and take photographs of all our designated communities. I did not have to look far! Peter Pauley from Eufaula had taken our photographs during our awards banquet in 2018. I already was familiar with his work and he was willing to take on this crazy task for us in just a month! With the help of a grant from the Alabama State Council on the Arts to pay for a portion of the photography, we were able to move forward. The loveliest thing about this project is each of our programs was gifted the photography to better promote their district and their community. You can see Peters’ photography on our website, social media and press releases moving forward. For more information on Peter Pauley visit his website
  3. One of the making "lemonade out of lemons" situations that we had last year was our March quarterly training. Two of the speakers that had been scheduled for our annual conference in Monroeville in August of 2020, which of course we had to cancel, were rescheduled for a virtual workshop on March 9th.  We enjoyed presentations from Jeff Siegler, of Revitalize or Die on the Power of Place and Civic Pride; Civic Apathy and from Shawn Terpack of Arnett Muldrow & Associates on Wayfinding 101 What? When? Why? It was a fun day with lots of participation from those attending. We are also excited to be gearing up for our annual conference on August 18 – 20 in Gadsden - hopefully in person! We are excited to think we'll see each other soon.

And as I said time moves forward, and we are thrilled to welcome Tanya Maloney to our staff. She is a great addition to our team and has made an instant impact. You will see more of her as time goes on, please welcome her to our team. The other side of time is that Laura Mendez will be moving on. We have certainly enjoyed working with Laura the last three years and wish her all the best in her new endeavors. Time passes, it changes us.  It is our purpose to make sure it changes us for the better.

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