I had published a blog post Tuesday at mcsaiowa.org about Derrick Zornes, a relatively new resident I had met with last week. Derrick is working hard and seems sincere in his efforts to turn his life around.
Anyway, Tuesday was his 20th birthday and he stopped in the office of MCSA Executive Director Maggie Curry to visit with both of us. Maggie gave Derrick a birthday cake and a bit of a pep talk, urging him to keep up his hard work. And she showed him the blog post I had written.
Derrick got a little emotional and immediately called his mom. He had her read the blog while they were on the phone. He then put on his speaker phone so Maggie and I could visit with both Derrick and his mom.
It was an emotional experience for me, too. In 23 years of newspaper writing and editing, I wrote thousands of stories. I know some of those stories touched readers because they would often call or send an email to tell me. But I don’t ever remember being there when someone read a story and was touched like that in front of me.
I left work thinking maybe I really was meant to land at MCSA. The time I spent Tuesday with Maggie, Derrick and his mom on the phone made the eight months I spent in between jobs and worrying about my future seem pretty insignificant.
In those 23 years as a newsman, I mentored more interns and young reporters than I can count. It was always the most fulfilling part of the job and I still hear from many of them. I call them my kids even though none of them are kids any more.
But not even the joy in seeing them do well feels any better than what I experienced Tuesday. It was a good day.