Thanks for your help in making this possible

It’s hard to believe, but this month marks the end of my thirteenth year of writing this column. As I embark on the adventure of a fourteenth year, it still feels like I have barely scratched the surface of all there is to tell in a community as rich as Gilroy’s!
I treasure favorite moments from over the years: when I wrote about the birthday celebration of a 97-year-old woman named Frances, I will never forget the note I received:  “Just wanted you to know that Frances waltzed in here feeling like a celebrity after your article ran.
“I said to her, ‘So you saw the article, I assume,’” and she said, “Everyone saw the article!!” —Cheryl Huguenor, director, Live Oak Adult Day Services.
I find inspiration in a community rich in its cast of compassionate and quirky characters, including unsung heroes, determined survivors, unpredictable eccentrics, and underground do-gooders. Gilroy is the part of our county that has preserved and celebrated its history the most. When I run into people I know every time I go to the coffee shop or the post office, I see Gilroy as the “Lake Wobegone” of our county, like the fictional town from which Garrison Keillor draws inspiration for his radio show, A Prairie Home Companion. Gilroy is our neck of the woods where the storytellers have the longest memories, and the residents have the most passion for causes dear to their hearts.
When I first began the column, I would wake up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat, thinking, “How can I possibly come up with enough ideas to write about!?”
But the people of Gilroy soon took care of that. It wasn’t long until I realized that the interaction with readers in this community would give me more ideas than I would ever be able to cover, even if I wrote a column every day.
There are those who still ask me after all this time where the ideas come from. They come from you, dear readers, all from you. I am grateful to each reader who has taken the time to write, everyone from librarians to activists, nurses, therapists, non-profit directors, professors, pastors, volunteers, police officers, and the homeless.
It can also be a bit embarrassing to be recognized in the grocery store at 2am, as someone rushes over to tell me his idea, and all I can think is: “Oh no, there’s a huge package of Svenhard’s Apple Strudel in my cart!”
One of the things I enjoy most is the mail from readers. My in-box is filled with positive mail 99.99% of the time, with only the occasional negative response to my ideas expressed in the column:  “Evil men shooting rifles in the air, some wearing checkered headscarves, and dirty nightshirts are calling you home, Kat. They are waiting for you in caves and palaces with bullets, and explosives. Please go to them.”
Then there are those that touch me beyond words:  “Not only am I dealing with HIV but I have also survived cancer twice. Sometimes I feel that it’s not just worth the struggle, but inspirational stories like yours keep us all going and hoping.”   
The stories from Gilroy touch people around the country and even the world, thanks to the Internet. Readers write from Chicago, Illinois; from the Cherokee Indian Reservation in North Carolina, and from Cambridge, England, just to name a few of the places.
After a column about Native Americans and a trip Gilroy youth made to Arizona to do construction work on a reservation, a sixteen-year-old girl wrote to say thanks from the Hopi Reservation in Arizona: “Tears are running down my cheeks, to know that we are not forgotten and that you think of us…”
And one of my all-time favorites:  “I had the same exact thoughts as you expressed in your article. Thank you.” —Djenane Kamil, Cairo, Egypt.
Readers suggest positive topics that I cover, saying that they hunger for good news of our community and hear enough “bad news.” They have made me more aware of this need, thanks to readers like Roxie Thomas, a volunteer at Saint Louise Regional Hospital, who said: “I do enjoy your articles…In this age of news reporting, your articles are a ‘breath of fresh air.’ Thanks.”
“I hope your article will be encouraging to people with disabilities in the community who perhaps did not know about our services and will now seek them. Thanks again.” —Fran Lopez, Associate Dean of Gavilan College, regarding a column on the progress of students at the Disability Resource Center.
Another favorite: “Hi Kat, my name is Judy and I am Salah Hamed’s wife (the one whose name means ‘righteous, thankful, and bossy’). I want to thank you for covering the event and for your positive article on the Abrahamic Alliance. Thank you and may God bless you for your kindness.”
Thanks to the Gilroy Dispatch for the opportunity to tell our stories, and thanks to you, dear readers, for your care and dedication to this community. Keep the good ideas coming.

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