Tomorrow, I will complete my tenure as a reporter for The Winston-Salem Chronicle, and close out a chapter in my career as a community journalist that has spanned the better part of decade.
As I prepare to take my new post as a program officer with The Winston-Salem Foundation’s Grants team, I can’t help but reflect upon the eight-plus years that I have spent with The Chronicle.
I couldn’t have done it without you.
I often tell people that I am “homegrown,” a city native and lifelong resident, but the time that I have spent as a member of this staff has afforded me a glimpse of this community that I never would have been privy to otherwise. I am grateful for that.
Over the course of my career, I have had the opportunity to be in the presence of nationally and (on occasion) internationally known figures, people whose faces have graced newspapers and magazine covers the world over. Yet, their stories often pale in comparison to those that are purely our own – the property of folks who, like myself, have chosen to call this place home.
The Twin City is teeming with survivors. Our residents have overcome incredible challenges, standing in the face of unimaginable tragedy and staring down seemingly unbeatable odds, armed only with courage and faith.
I know because I’ve watched you. I’ve documented your stories. I’ve seen you prevail.
From my vantage point in church pews and community centers, coliseums and community theaters, I have witnessed your accomplishments. I’ve applauded your dedication. I’ve mourned your losses.
Over the course of my tenure, I have watched this city grow and change in ways that I never could have imagined or expected. It’s pretty amazing that I can now stroll downtown on a random weekday night and see people – young and old, black and white, rich and poor – sharing meals in patio settings and laughs outside local breweries. I am proud that this city, once known only as a tobacco town, can usher in a new era of creativity and innovation without forsaking our agricultural heritage or trampling on our roots.
I’m proud that people who move here from out of town (although perhaps not impressed with our modest skyline) are often bowled over by the outpouring of generosity that they find here. They’re amazed by the throngs of people who don’t hesitate to pick up the mantle when times get tough or reach out a hand to those in need. Very often, they’re surprised, but I’m not, and I don’t think others who know this city are either.
As a “native daughter,” I too have benefited from the kindness of the people who call the Twin City home. The patience, support and encouragement that I have received from members of this community, while oftentimes undeserved, have been invaluable to me. Hearing your stories, sharing your successes and watching you grow have been the highlights of my time here, and so it is bittersweet for me to step away, knowing that my relationship with this community will change as a result.
Yet, by the same token, I am exhilarated as I look to this next stage in my career, because I know that there are so many in this community that I can still turn to for advice, for support and most of all, for inspiration. I have learned so much from watching your struggles, your trials, your triumphs. Thank you for making this such a vibrant place to live, work and play.
I may be a native by birth, but I am proud to say that I am a Winston-Salem resident by choice, because the people of this community make it second to none.