Working for a newspaper, as I have for the last 15 years, presents a daily dose of seemingly insurmountable challenges. It’s why it’s often called, “the daily miracle.”

And with the changing times, it proves more miraculous every day. No matter what, though, there is an element that hometown journalism offers that no other platform can match — it gives unsung heroes their due.

Sure, there’s social media.

But, there is just something that hits different about being in the paper. It’s an impartial third party that can validate and legitimatize one’s work through recognition. And so many deserve that. For all the negativity that nabs headlines — which is critical, we need honest reporting on real issues — sharing the bright lights in the community is equally important.

In my career, I’ve been so fortunate to be able to write about these local superstars. They’ve inspired me to do and be better. I know they’ve had the same effect on the readers who’ve enjoyed their stories. This particular issue if filled with these magnificent humans who’ve come to be my personal heroes.

In our Coastal Queue, we have some wise words from the ever effulgent Iman Ali, a former broadcast journalist turned Reiki master, who shares her thoughts on healing through sound. She’s left me spellbound since our very first meeting. That’s also true of another Que guest, Pamela Bauer Mueller, a beloved local author who unearthed the story of a little-known aviation pioneer, Hazel Jane Raines, who hailed from Macon.

Moving into our features (and on our cover), we have my darling Riley Letson. I first met this sweet soul when she was nine and her parents shared the story of the charity she founded, Riley’s Soles for Souls. Fast forward nearly six years and it’s become a rousing success, benefiting countless people from Glynn County to the hills of Kentucky.

Next up, we have Shakir Robinson, who I met when he was in high school. Since then, he’s played college football at Navy, traveled the world with the Marines, and established a charity that’s gifted thousands to local students.

Like Shakir, I’ve known artist and author Randy Siegel for quite a long time and have loved learning from his brilliant musings. In this edition, he offers ideas on how to use art to develop intention.

Mandy Thompson is another brilliant artist, one I’m so grateful to call a friend. She is deep, genuine, and inspires me daily through her words and her work. Here, she shares some ideas on how to develop a thriving journaling practice which offers a wealth of benefits for one’s mental and spiritual wellbeing.

And last but never least, Rabbi Rachael Bregman. I was absolutely overcome when she agreed to write about the work she and other members of the Glynn County Clergy for Equity have done since the murder of Ahmaud Arbery cast this county in darkness. They’ve truly been the light. And while I’ve written stories about this mighty group before, Rachael can offer perspective that I cannot with words that hold a power mine never could.

I hope you find meaning, hope, and insight in these pages. I hope their stories help you to become who you want to be in 2023.

In love and light —