Seth Boyes joined the Dickinson County News staff in March of 2017. In his first week at the DCN, he covered a train derailment near Graettinger. The tankers carrying ethanol burst into flames. Seth's photo of the event won first place for Best Breaking News photo at the 2018 Iowa Newspaper Association Convention and Trade Show. Since, Seth has won nearly a dozen awards for writing, photography and multimedia content. Seth graduated from Iowa State University in 2009 with a degree in Integrated Studio Arts. His original cartoons run regularly in the Spencer Daily Reporter and the DCN. Both he and his wife Janet hail from Clear Lake and have come to expect summers to be full of the hustle and bustle of tourists and visitors.
The governor's recent extension of Iowa's COVID-19 recommendations is the latest note in a minor chord our society has strained to hold for several weeks. Businesses and schools will remain closed at least until the end of the month, and we're being asked to continue limiting any social gathering to no more people than can be counted on two hands. This would all be easier if we had a definite date when we knew things would snap back to normal, but that's not often how life works.
Tragedies, disasters and emergencies are full of unknowns, and that can be frightening for anybody at any stage of life. We at the newspaper like to think information is the antidote to fear — that being informed keeps us grounded instead of being swept along by rumor. I can tell you that this family of newspapers certainly had that goal in mind as the thunder of the coronavirus storm was rolling toward northwest Iowa, but I can also tell you we know stoic quotes from the governor's office and outlines of precautions can only do so much to calm anxieties.
Please believe, it's more tiresome than you might imagine to be tasked with not only knowing as much as you can about the current crisis' effect on this community but also bearing the responsibility of conveying reliable (let me stress reliable) information to the community fast enough that it's of use. Days blur together, and every headline reveals itself to be a small part of a simple truth — everyone is worried.
But lately a sentiment from television's most undeniably friendly personality — Fred Rogers — has been running laps in my mind. You may know the quote already:
"My mother would say to me, 'Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.' To this day, especially in times of disaster, I remember my mother's words, and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers — so many caring people in this world."
I'm glad to say we have, in addition to keeping our community informed of proclamations at the state and local levels, been doing just what Mr. Rogers was talking about. We've shared the story of teachers going on parade to stay in touch with students. We've chronicled how volunteers are finding new ways to be sure those in need are fed. We've published tales of private citizens and businesses using technology to make equipment for emergency personnel. More stories of help are on the docket and, in many cases, we've been able to find these stories because you in the community are helping point us to the helpers — for that we thank you. There are, of course, more helpers than any of us know, and there are certainly more than appear in the pages of this newspaper, but that does not signify a lack of effort from those who are looking, rather it's a sign of abundant action on the part of the community — for that we thank you again.
We may not know how long we'll hold the burdensome notes of COVID-19's music, but we can celebrate the dulcet tones we hear among the din. We can help.
Mr. Rogers reiterated his mother's quote in a clip used by the American Red Cross some time ago and, try as I might, I simply can't summarize the importance of looking for helpers in times of disaster better than he did.
"If you look for the helpers, you'll know there's hope," Rogers said.
If nothing else, may this paper assure you there is hope in this community.