As we start to see the light at the end of this tunnel, I am reminded repeatedly of just how amazing our community is. It’s no wonder that we miss our old way of life, it was great. We’ve held back and missed out on just enough to really recapture some gratitude for the gifts we are given each day. We have new information surrounding us daily and it seems guidelines and regulation requirements can change by the hour. But in the midst of all the chaos, life goes on and we lost a resident who was a friend to anyone he met: Buddy Rabaya, Santee Chamber of Commerce’s 2018 Person of the Year. Buddy and I met several years ago as my role at the Chamber was evolving and I was beginning to gain invitations to circles of leadership I previously had been watching from afar. Buddy was the typical “gentle giant” working quietly around town as the face of SMOAC but obviously having a deep love for our town’s seniors and struggling families. When we hosted our inaugural Heroes Luncheon last March of 2019, we were celebrating the year before and all that was accomplished in Santee with the help of what I am now realizing were those long overdue in getting some serious recognition. Buddy was among these amazing folks as he helped sell out the room for all who were being honored. At one point, I stopped and realized it wasn’t just the room full of people he was impacting, but more a way of thinking, feeling and living that he was spreading throughout us. The power of that contagious love has been more apparent than ever during his stint in the hospital leading up to his passing. We’ve seen the many programs and outreach efforts he put in place still continue in his absence as more and more people #belikeBuddy and follow in his footsteps. I now know that all along, this is what he wanted. He wanted people to give where they can, when they can, to make us all stronger as we are obviously better together. As we get restless about our normalcies being removed from our lives, please consider going back to the basics and just doing what’s right. Support our local small businesses, thank a hero, help a neighbor and if you had a chance to meet Buddy, thank your lucky stars you had him in your life and make sure his memory is preserved by continuing his legacy of giving.