My view of Athens County just got a lot smaller. Stores, restaurants, bars, and events are all mostly closed or canceled. I now go only from my home to the office. For now, we at The Messenger are still working out of the office, though I know many in Athens are working from home.

Everyday life has changed. My world currently revolves around Gov. Mike DeWine’s daily press conferences where he tells us the latest updates of the COVID-19 pandemic. My thoughts are mostly centered on this singular, global issue. The stress of the spreading pandemic weighs heavy on many, but when it begins to feel overwhelming, I find reasons to smile in Athens County.

I smile when thinking about the number of people stepping up to make sure that all students are fed while they are at home. Volunteers and staff members have been delivering lunches to students daily. Restaurants are offering free meals for k-12 students for the duration of the closure.

I smile when I see people offering to help parents with their children’s education while they are at home. Many parents feel at a lost for how to teach different subjects. Community involvement in a child’s education is a living illustration of the phrase, “It takes a village to raise a child.”

I smile when I see the posts on social media encouraging people to support local small businesses. Many restaurants in the area are offering take-out and delivery options. The businesses are trying to survive right now, just like all of us are. Patronizing these businesses can help to ensure that they will still be there for everyone to visit once this is all over.

On Wednesday afternoon I ordered take-out from Union Street Diner in Athens. I picked up my chicken sandwich and fries from the diner’s walk-up window and took it back to the Messenger office. The order was ready when I got there, and still piping hot when I got it back to the office. It was one of the best lunches I’d had in a while, and it made me smile to support an Athens’ favorite.

I know that it is not an easy time. The pandemic is stressful, and things are uncertain. I hope that despite this, you find a reason to smile.

I’ll get back to exploring Athens County once COVID-19 calms down. For now share your reason to smile with me at

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