Jourgensen: They shed light on a dark year

I could wrap up my thoughts for 2021 by expounding on COVID-19’s relentless slaughter and the widening American political chasm — but who really wants to read another word about those miseries and, for that matter, climate-change Doomsday?

I will focus instead on the bright spots in my life and in the lives of a lot of other people. Hope springs eternal around us and it is supplied by people who go the extra mile to help others and, by their example, chip away at the dark and scary monsters messing up our lives.

Here are the people who made 2021 brighter and who I firmly believe will make 2022 a great year.

Peter Balentine became Washington Street Baptist Church’s new pastor in October 2020 and worked with his congregation throughout this year to make the big brick church looming over downtown Lynn a welcoming place for people seeking meals, relief from substance abuse, and solace in faith.

Speaking of faith, the Rev. Francis J. Cloherty, St. Mary of the Sacred Heart’s senior priest in residence, joined forces with retired Rabbi H. David Werb and Lynn resident yusef Hayes to write, “Shalom, Peace, Salaam” describing how Christians, Jews and Muslims can find common ground.

Four-year-old Stella Fogarty of Lynn decided the $20 she saved for Christmas was better spent this year on buying dolls for needy kids. Why? “Because it’s very kind,” she said.

Kim Garbarino always gets included on my inspiration list. The marathon swimmer and probation worker lives by the motto, “If I have a better than 50-percent chance of success at something, then it’s not enough of a challenge.” He tells his Lynn District Court clients he won’t give up on them as long as they don’t give up on themselves.

Mike Quintana started helping other people by handing out Thanksgiving turkeys. The Lynn resident expanded his generosity into providing nutritious drinks to Salem Hospital workers and handing school supplies to Lynn students.

COVID-19 couldn’t keep David Shalvoy from ensuring Christopher’s Cafe gave back to the Lynn community in 2021 by providing meals, including food for frontline workers, and serving as a gathering place for neighborhood meetings and candidate rallies during the 2021 city-election season.

To truly celebrate 2021’s end with a salute to unquenchable spirits, I have to mention Essex Media Group’s fifth annual Persons of the Year.

Saber Abougalala annually prepares and delivers meals to First Congregational Church in Revere to make sure fellow city residents do not go hungry on Thanksgiving.

Irma Chez said her “heart of service” guides her in helping Swampscott Housing Authority tenants.

Marblehead High School student-athlete Eli Feingold’s winning Thanksgiving Day field goal exemplifies his passion for embracing new opportunities.

Gina Goodwin saw fellow Peabody residents going without on the holidays and launched Gina’s Giving Back to help them.

Salem State University President John Keenan exemplified the enduring bond of friendship when he successfully donated a kidney to a college friend.

Founding the North Shore Juneteenth Association is just one example of military veteran and former Lynn City Council candidate Nicole McClain’s commitment to service.

Mike Moriello is a fourth-generation Saugus barber who knows his shop is a local gathering place where sports opinions, jokes, and goodwill flow freely.

Jeffrey Musman knocked on doors to raise support in Nahant against Northeastern University’s plans to expand its East Point presence.

Lynnfield’s Karen Nascembeni never gave up fighting COVID-19 even after it took her husband’s and father-in-law’s lives and subjected her to months of rehabilitation work.

Here’s a long list of people to inspire us to work on making 2022 better than 2021. The work starts tomorrow.

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