By Norb Garrett

The past month has not given us much to celebrate. Whether you think the state’s, nation’s and world’s response to COVID-19 is appropriate or an overreaction, the fact is there’s little any of us can do other than try to be compliant and respectful by following the health guidelines established to prevent the further spread of the virus.

As many businesses are shuttered or remain open while struggling to survive, school children stay at home, parents and families cope with lost jobs and incomes and uncertainty, layering stress and strain on all of us, it’s important to try to find a few rays of happiness and celebrate them.

In our communities, we’ve heard uplifting stories of neighborhoods holding virtual “happy hour” block parties online, local musicians and artists using their talents online to lift our collective spirits, families bonding around dusted-off board games with their homebound kids, and local businesses doing what they can to support the health care workers as they battle the coronavirus. The worst of times can sometimes bring out the best in people.

Here at Picket Fence Media, we have something to celebrate as well. As we battle to keep our lights on due to the advertising budgets of local businesses being cut and events being canceled, on Monday, March 30, our staff learned we had won 10 prestigious editorial awards from the California News Publishers Association (CNPA).

It’s the most awards we’ve ever won in a single year and a testament to the work ethic and talent of our small, industrious group of reporters and designers. The San Clemente Times took five awards, the Dana Point Times three and The Capistrano Dispatch and SC Magazine one each.

Congratulations to Lillian Boyd, Shawn Raymundo, Zach Cavanagh, Fred Swegles, Jasmine Smith, Chelsie Rex, Randy Youngman and Andrea Papagianis on an amazing job covering our communities.

Our staff has stepped up big-time covering the COVID-19 crisis, too, working countless hours and weekends trying to keep you informed.

In response to the crisis, we launched a new daily e-newsletter in each community (SC Times DailyDP Times Daily and The Dispatch Daily) to provide breaking news daily (go to our websites and click the News E-Blasts tab on the upper navigation bar to sign up).

We’ve also compiled a list (Local Eats) of area restaurants that are offering to-go and delivery services during the “stay-at-home” mandate, and every day we spotlight a local restaurant for free in our daily e-newsletters to help those businesses stay afloat during the crisis.

You can help us continue to bring you free “Local News You Can Use” by becoming an “Insider” and doing your part to support local, independent journalism through this health crisis and beyond.

Please go to our websites, click on “Contribute” to learn how you can play an important role supporting the SC Times, DP Times and The Capistrano Dispatch.

We’re committed to doing our part to help keep you informed and aware of everything happening in our communities. Thanks for continuing to do your part, too.

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