Shorey: Thank you, Rhea | Journalism

On Thursday mornings, I often find Rhea Bouchard Powers at the Walnut Hill Bowl in Woonsocket, waiting The Valley Breeze to arrive so she can see what her print column looks like.

Rhea has always been one of our most popular writers, and that pride she feels when those around her at the bowling alley read her final thoughts is a big reason why. Since the early days of this journal, she has been in contact with readers where they are, sharing reflections related to their mutual joys, questions and struggles.

I personally want to thank Rhea for her commitment to delivering her “My Life” column so faithfully all these years. She deserves this well deserved retirement. And who knows, like I told her, I hope she comes back with a thought or two from time to time.

While we also said very sad goodbyes to longtime recipe columnist Rhonda Hanson last spring and film critic Tom Burke a year ago, we’ve also welcomed new perspectives in recent years, including Observer columnist Larry Sasso in 2019 and book reviewer Jim Raftus last year. We brought back Arlene Violet and Tom Ward for the monthly columns, and added regular contributors Marcela Betancur and Ricardo Pitts-Wiley in recent months. As theaters reopened, Frank O’Donnell also brought back his usual entertainment plays.

This is where you come in. I would love to hear suggestions from you, our readers, about others who might have a unique perspective to share. We’re always open to ideas for new features, and the people who read this journal are in the best position to give us feedback, because they’re the ones who read it every week.

The Rhode Island Press Association, of which I am co-president, officially plans High School Journalism Day to be held on a Friday in May. This will be a great virtual event for young people who are interested in a career in journalism or who are simply interested in the role journalism plays in our great country. The day will include panel discussions with a number of local journalists on exciting topics such as stories that make a difference. Contact me if you are a high school student or staff member who would like your school to participate.

Our Broken The team is working on an upcoming special edition on how the region’s businesses, large and small, are dealing with endless challenges recruiting employees and staying in business. If you know someone who has shown remarkable innovation or determination during these trying times, we’d love to hear from you. Email me at [email protected] and tell me all about them.

Now is more than ever the time to support our local businesses. They’ve been there and might need our help navigating the impacts of the latest variant.

We are very grateful to all companies that support the mission of local news by broadcasting The breeze in your stores. In return, we’re happy to help increase foot traffic, and we hope the stories we report will help make a difference in your lives.

One of the best ways to support a local business is to be kind to its employees. There is no doubt that part of the current staffing situation has to do with the way workers have been treated by certain stressful clients. After seeing a few recent explosions at local stores for little or nothing, I tweeted out a few thoughts that seemed to resonate with people.

“I know there’s a lot of stress out there, but don’t give up on kindness,” I said. “No one is perfect, but many do their best.”

Ethan Shorey has been the editor of The Valley Breeze’s five community newspapers since 2017. He enjoys shopping at local businesses whenever possible and especially likes the sushi at Dave’s.

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