Back in Oct. 2019, in those blissful times before we had ever heard of ‘COVID-19’, I started doing some freelance work for the Herald, submitting articles and photos as a contributor.

From there, I was given the opportunity to take up a full-time position as the reporter, which I did – with a little encouragement from those already on staff.

My first official day was Jan. 27. On Jan. 29 I published an article regarding the press conference held by Adrian Dix and Dr. Bonnie Henry announcing the first case of COVID-19 in the province. It was ominously headlined ‘Coronavirus touches down in BC’.

At the time, no one in the office thought much of it, including myself. But in the weeks, and months that were to come, we were to have our lives turned upside down by this virus and the restrictions put in place to attempt to contain it.

By the beginning of March, I had been sent home, where I worked until the middle of June in respect to the province’s lockdown orders. Meaning that in my first six months I was working from home for longer than I had worked in the office, coping with a brand-new position in a brand-new field during an unprecedented global pandemic.

Even when I returned to the office, most events had been cancelled or postponed. Interviews took place via email or over the phone, any held in-person are somewhat awkwardly conducted through masks, plexiglass and bottles of hand sanitizer. And yet, the Herald keeps going. There are still pages that need to be filled with new content each week.

I tell you sincerely that it has been a case of sink or swim.

So, has 2020 been a downright crazy year? Certainly. Do I regret taking this leap into journalism? Certainly not.

Through this job I’ve had a chance to get to know this community on a completely different level. I learn something new every day, and bring that knowledge to the public, good or bad. People open up and share their stories with me, showing a remarkable trust and faith in me to then take those stories out into the world, hopefully helping them in the process.

Although I haven’t had the opportunity to attend many events, I look forward to interacting with organizers and attendees and seeing people do their most passionate work at rodeos, music festivals, dance recitals and whatever else the little town of Merritt has to offer.   

I really have to extend a heartfelt thank you to those I work with for guiding me along the way and helping to keep me sane and on my toes during this rollercoaster twelve months.

Ken, for keeping us all laughing (or groaning); Jake, who was unfortunately transplanted across the country right before the pandemic kicked off but keeps turning up and helping the rookie out; and Theresa, whose laid-back attitude and years of experience helped make the transition from working for myself to working for a company relatively painless. And although Michele ended up leaving the Herald team shortly after I started, I have wondered what it would be like to have her back at the desk next to me during this modern-day plague.

So, I’m putting 2020 in my rear-view and, while I look forward to watching it disappear into the past, I can’t say that this year has been terrible overall.