It is an understatement to say that 2021 was a difficult year for many.
But there was a lot of good too. And nothing reflects the good in our communities quite like the Williamsport Sun-Gazette’s People of the Year series.
Many of the challenges we faced stemmed from the unrelenting COVID-19 pandemic. One grassroots group sought to counteract the damage the pandemic — and misinformation about the pandemic — could do to our families and friends.
“A lot of organizations, you have a few people doing a lot of the work. We have everybody doing a lot of the work at this organization and they’re very knowledgeable,” co-founder Jim Smith told the Sun-Gazette.
School nurses also worked heroically through the pandemic.
“It’s certainly been a challenging year,” said Corrina Gnoffo, director of health services for Williamsport Area School District.
Other active community members worked to assist the region’s vulnerable homeless population.
“We want women to come in and learn the skills that they need to develop the confidence that they need and to experience healing,” Pam Temons, director of Sojourner Truth Ministries’ transitional living house.
Dorothy Warner made mats for homeless men and women out of recycled materials.
“In more than two decades of ministry, I have not met a woman with the combination of attributes that she has,’ the Rev. Bryce Grieco, pastor at the Northway Community Church said of Warner.
Some of the finalists worked to make the region better equipped for healthy dialogue.
“One of the lessons that we learned … was that we need to create opportunities as a community to talk peacefully and respectfully with one another on important topics that affect everyone,” said Barbara McGary, library executive director.
All of the finalists were humble.
“There were so many people that came and helped us, brought us dinner and got us presents for Christmas. And while it may have not seemed like a big deal for them, it meant a lot to us,” Cecilia Fink said in describing one of her charitable endeavors.
Perhaps the winner of the Sun-Gazette’s Person of the Year, Alyson “Aly” Creasy, the 12-year-old founder of Aly’s Monkey Movement, said it best: The best of the year — and of a life — comes from our family, friends and neighbors who focus on “giving and making people happy.”