Hilliard Headlines: Adversity of 2020 brought community together

Michelle Crandall
Guest columnist

The year 2020 has been challenging for all of us.

We’ve battled a pandemic and its myriad effects on health, education, jobs and the economy.

Michelle Crandall is city manager of Hilliard.

The election season was long and contentious.

The national issue of systemic racism became prominent, with no easy solutions to correct decades of wrongdoings.

Don’t even get me started on the murder hornets.

I am introspective during the holidays, and as an affirmed optimist, I believe it is better to light one candle than curse the darkness.

It would be wrong to just sweep everything about 2020 under the rug and never look back on it again. Some great things happened this year. (No, really!)

First and foremost, this community proved we will come together in the face of adversity. We will extend a hand to those who need it.

In 2020, residents contributed to local agencies, such as the Hilliard Food Pantry, so families struggling against lost jobs and other hardships would have nutritious meals.

In October, Hilliard City Council dedicated $150,000 in Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act funding to the Hilliard Community Foundation for grants designated for local charities whose health and human-services missions were negatively affected by the COVID 19 coronavirus.

Thanks to these funds and the dedicated foundation board members who awarded the grants, eight local agencies will better serve our neighbors in need.

More than 60 local small businesses received a total of more than $250,000 in CARES Act grants, thanks to the city and Hilliard Development Corp. 

Through the city's annual "Cram the Cruiser" winter-clothing drive, local children will have warm coats and mittens when the temperature drops. The Norwich Township Fire Department’s holiday toy drive will result in a more joyous Christmas for many local children.

Over the summer, Hilliard residents came together for peaceful antiracism demonstrations in Old Hilliard. Members of the Hilliard Division of Police stood side by side with these protestors, showing support and ensuring our entire community’s voices and pain were expressed freely.

The city continued offering excellent necessary services. Police officers kept our community safe. Leaves and trash continued to be collected. Street repairs were made. 

We added other services to meet new needs that have presented themselves. Senior citizens who could no longer meet at the senior center for lunch were provided meals via a new drive-thru program. The city is offering a two-month pilot program, providing free rides to people ages 55 and older through the end of 2020.

Related story:Hilliard using CARES Act money to help students and seniors

Our recreation and parks team could not offer typical programming for much of the year, so it created “virtual” classes and camps throughout the summer.

And in 2020, we were all reminded of the dedication of so many “heroes” whose work often is taken for granted, including health-care providers, teachers, first responders, retail workers, restaurant employees and other service providers who risked their own health to help others during these challenging times.

This holiday season, I encourage you to “light one candle” – or two or three. 

Take a moment to consider the small ways we have grown because of the adversity of 2020, and find ways to offer small acts of random kindness that prove, as a community, we continue to be all in this together.

Michelle Crandall is city manager of Hilliard.