We live here, too. All of us who work on the editorial side of The Richmond County Daily Journal.
And we’re human. So when we’re out reporting on an event or issue, sometimes we can’t help but be touched by some of the stories and people we write stories on.
There are, generally, two schools of thought on journalists and their involvement in certain areas. The first, older model is that journalists are not, in fact, human and must be objective 100 percent of the time. The second, newer school of thought is that anyone who says they are objective 100 percent of the time is a liar.
My approach is somewhere in the middle. I try and teach reporters — it’s more of a mandate than a guideline — that it’s perfectly normal to have feelings on a certain issue but in the midst of being a reporter, on or off the clock, those feelings have to be kept private.
While off the clock, though, it’s absolutely acceptable to, if not become part of the story, then become part of the community. In fact, we encourage it. Some people are insistent that there is nothing to do in Richmond County. I happen to disagree.
So when one of our staff is moved to volunteer with an organization, it’s to be applauded.
It’s happening today for reporter Amanda Moss. She recently wrote about the Richmond County Habit for Humanity’s call for volunteers. The nonprofit organization helps build new homes but locally is focused on staffing its ReStore, located on Highway 74 Business, and its weekend work crews with volunteers.
In the store, volunteers help run the register and assist with merchandising and display efforts. Proceeds from the store help purchase supplies for work crews to help make repairs on homes in situations where owners are unable to afford the work themselves.
Outside of the store, Ken Rahal coordinates volunteer work crews and assigns them to projects in Richmond County. The projects are requested, usually by the homeowners themselves or friends or family members looking out for their well-being.
Amanda might be working the cash register today, or helping to update a display on the showroom floor. Next time, we might find her on a work crew, pounding nails into the railing of a new porch or helping to install a ramp for handicapped access to a home.
I’m in the same boat — well, different cause, but same result. While in Maryland, my daughter MacKenzie, 11, convinced me one Saturday morning to help transport a dog that was en route from southwest West Virginia to New Jersey, from a high-kill animal shelter to a no-kill rescue. I helped transport Rascal, such a very well-behaved pup that I couldn’t help but wonder how he found himself at risk of euthanasia, a portion of the way through western Maryland, from Flintstone to Hagerstown.
Well, having done it once, I was hooked. So was my daughter. We made a few more trips — once hauling nearly a dozen dogs, including about eight puppies in my ‘99 Land Rover. That one was quite the adventure. One other time, I ran a 13.1-mile race (as MacKenzie took photos) and then met a transport in Hagerstown and took them all the way to Harrisburg, Pa.
I had to make sure MacKenzie didn’t put Polar, a snow-white pup, in her pocket for the trip home.
As my weekend schedule filled, I couldn’t do transports anymore. I switched to being a foster parent for a four-month-old hound mix named Samson. MacKenzie and I spent a lot of time working with him, getting him to behave around people and being a good neighbor to other dogs.
We worked hard and after about a month found him a great home. Now that I’m living in Richmond County, I’ll probably find a way to be of some use here that will make my daughter proud.
Undoubtedly, stories will continue unfold at the Richmond County Animal Shelter, the Humane Society of Richmond County, the Richmond County Animal Advocates and other animal advocacy groups in the county and region. Members of The Journal’s editorial staff will doggedly pursue those stories and report them in the news pages of your local newspaper.
And yet, at the same time, pardon us for being a bit human sometimes. We’re people, too, and can’t help but want to provide help where possible, even in small ways.