Amber Delay O’Connor: Thank you, Craig, for letting me tell your stories
As some of our readers already know, today marks my last day as assistant editor at the Craig Press.
Next week I will be moving into a new chapter of my career and in my life. I’ve accepted a job as a grant writer for Mind Springs Health in Grand Junction, and my husband and I are going to be moving there.
Our community news will be in good hands with Editor Eli Pace, Publisher Bonnie Stewart and the next assistant editor who joins the team. It’s been an honor to work for the Caig Press over this past year, and as I step away, I would like to share my gratitude.
Becoming a reporter for my hometown newspaper was both unexpected and a tremendous blessing. I was not formally trained in journalism. Professionally, my background is in municipal government, nonprofit leadership and grant writing. Before that, I put myself through an undergraduate English degree, by practicing massage therapy.
In January of last year, I had recently launched my own massage business in the Healing Touch Co-op here in Craig. I too wanted to contribute in some way to keeping our community vibrant as we face a significant cultural and economic shift with the closure of the coal mines and coal-fired power plant.
That same month last year, I was diagnosed with cancer, and with the treatment and recovery period, I could no longer perform the physical work required for massage therapy. When I reached out to my local network to see what other work was out there for me, I found that the Craig Press was hiring for a reporter.
Doing this work, especially the first few months, gave me a new sense of purpose. Growing up in Craig and then living here on and off through adulthood, I sometimes forget how much is going on in our community.
In this role, I got to meet community members, business owners, educators, youth and local officials to hear about their work and lives. I have had the privilege of listening to dozens of individuals to help them tell their stories.
The stories that I have uncovered have been about people who are chasing their passions whether that’s opening up new innovative businesses or bringing a whitewater park to the Yampa River. I got to meet local educators getting recognized for national awards, and volunteers working tirelessly to keep essential programs in our community alive.
My most memorable coverage this year was about the friends and family of Eli Ellis, a bright young man who died unexpectedly on Aug. 14, 2020. After a year and a half of advocacy, Eli’s friends and family got a bench placed at Sherwood Park to memorialize their friend, son, brother, grandson and mentor.
Stories like Eli’s show how unfortunate circumstances can transform into an inspirational legacy that radiates across the community. And Eli’s friends and family have demonstrated that speaking up and sticking together can create real, tangible changes in our neighborhoods.
There are thousands of people in this community who are passionate, caring and who will make sure Craig thrives through the challenges ahead. Every one of us has what it takes to make a positive impact in the world around us.
I know right now there is a lot of frustration and uncertainty about what Craig will look like in 10 years and the future of our economy. But what I have seen and what I know about our community is that we are a resilient and hard-working bunch. If I ever had doubts about the future for Craig, working for the Press has shown me that while our community may change, it will persist.
Every day there are people within the city, county, school district, newspaper, hospital, grocery stores, restaurants, small businesses, coal mines, power plant and throughout the communities in Moffat County who show up to ensure those services are available to residents when we need them.
During my years here I have witnessed people tackling issues that seemed impossible to solve — without giving up. Mental health, behavioral health and substance use disorder treatment are causes near and dear to my heart, so that’s where I want to dedicate the next stage of my career.
Craig will always be a home to me. With my own medical issues this year came the epiphany that for me, life is too short to spend it shoveling snow. So, Grand Junction awaits us warmly and with an early spring. But you may still see a byline from me in the future from time to time. Until then.
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