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2021: New Year, New View

How has 2020 impacted you? We asked five community leaders to reflect and then share their outlook on 2021

Article by Chris Watson

Photography by Terry Fravel

Originally published in Canton Lifestyle

This past year has been an impactful one, to put it mildly. There are very few of us whose daily lives have not been majorly changed by the chaotic events of 2020. While last year may have been a time for overcoming obstacles and conquering adversity, 2021 still holds much promise.

We’ve asked five individuals to share some of the interesting ways that this tumultuous span has affected their work, as well as what the new year means for them. Whether they come from the catering world or construction industry, one thing is clear: we can all get through this.

Brooke Guiley: A bubbly Catering Sales Manager for Old Carolina Barbecue Co.

"My motto for my life, now more than ever, is just be kind."

WHAT OBSTACLES HAS OLD CAROLINA FACED IN 2020?

We faced food shortages, event venues closing and state-mandated restrictions within our own dining rooms. During this time we’ve bounced back, built upon our basic methods and adapted to fit the needs and requirements of our new “normal.” For example, our catering orders that normally include self-serve trays of food now include individually packaged meals.

HOW HAVE EVENTS AFFECTED YOU PERSONALLY?

Frankly, I’m sad for our customers who had to delay, severely change or cancel their events that have been planned for months. I try to make myself available to my customers at all hours because we never know when circumstances may change.
 

WHAT DOES 2021 MEAN FOR CATERING AT LARGE?

I am optimistic there will be a rebound in the catering of larger events and that both our clients and their guests will be comfortable attending. As of right now, we have more events booked for 2021 than we serviced in all of 2020. To me that means people are planning their futures and are hopeful we can move forward in the coming year.

ANY ADVICE FOR THE NEW YEAR?

My motto for my life, now more than ever, is just be kind. So much is going on right now that we cannot control, BUT we can control how we treat other people.

Nathan Mellion: A professional, thorough orthodontist at Mellion Orthodontics

HOW DID MELLION ORTHODONTICS WEATHER 2020?

Like all other dental practices, we were shut down mid-March through May 1. First, we had to find new ways to assess our existing patients. While virtual appointments are not ideal for orthodontics, they provided a way for us to make sure our patients were coping without office visits. Second, we needed to ensure our office and team were logistically prepared to safely see our patients once we reopened. We are very fortunate to have such a great group to work with everyday.

WHAT UNIQUE CHALLENGES DID YOU TACKLE IN ORTHODONTICS?

The protective equipment that we already used as standard practice in our office enabled us to be ready to see patients safely on our May 1 reopening day. The most unique challenge was getting an adequate volume of masks.

WHAT DOES THE NEW YEAR LOOK LIKE FOR THE INDUSTRY?

Orthodontics, and dentistry as a whole, has proven to be safe and effective at treating patients through this pandemic. As we move into 2021, I think this will only continue. I have always been optimistic about any new year, but 2021 might be the most optimistic I have been in a long, long time.

"2021 might be the most optimistic I have been in a long, long time."

Brian St. Jean: The experienced President of Infinity Homes & Remodeling

HOW HAVE THE CHALLENGES OF 2020 IMPACTED INFINITY HOMES & REMODELING?

We are finding people staying at home more often than normal due to the pandemic, and now they want to complete projects they’ve been putting off. The amount of work people are requesting has doubled, if not tripled. This has extended project start and completion dates, and led to shortages in materials. Still, it’s refreshing to see people remain positive in spite of everything and move forward with construction.

DO YOU THINK PEOPLE VALUE THEIR LIVING SPACES MORE NOW?

Absolutely. Clients are spending more time at home and less time at work, school, traveling, or visiting family and friends. They want to create better living environments. Additionally, with the inability to visit loved ones in nursing homes, more and more families are creating spaces to care for them at home.


WHAT DOES 2021 HOLD FOR HOME REMODELING?

The future looks promising for the remodeling industry. Interest rates are low and clients are buying homes they want to make their own. As more jobs allow employees to stay home and schools are offering remote learning, there will be a continued need to create those work and classroom spaces.

"It’s refreshing to see people remain positive in spite of everything."

Joan Reusser: A compassionate, hard-working agent at Premiere Plus Realty

HOW HAS PREMIERE PLUS REALTY BEEN AFFECTED BY THE EVENTS OF 2020?

The real estate market in Florida is flourishing because of this past year. With so many people working from home, they now realize they can live anywhere they like. Why not make a move to the Sunshine State? There are challenges too, of course. Inventory is low and there have been many more instances of multiple-offer situations when something goes on the market. This drives the price of the property up, but it’s great for sellers!

WHAT MIGHT READERS NOT KNOW ABOUT HOW THE PANDEMIC HAS IMPACTED YOUR WORK IN REAL ESTATE?

About 1,000 people a day are buying houses in Florida because of the pandemic. More people are making a permanent move, rather than purchasing a second home.

Amy Mast: The motivational Chair of The Women’s Fund Advisors Committee

HOW HAS 2020 IMPACTED THE WOMEN’S FUND?

Like many boards we had to adjust how we normally met and administered grants. We had to conduct everything virtually, from our Advisors Committee meetings to our Annual Gathering. We would like to thank our donors for their continued support even in these difficult times!
 

HOW HAVE NONPROFITS HANDLED THE PANDEMIC?

We know that this has been a difficult time for nonprofit organizations. They had to adapt quickly and without adequate resources. Many of their in-person programs had to change dramatically.


WHAT IS THE WOMEN’S FUND DOING IN 2021?

To avoid burdening the nonprofits/agencies by making them respond to another grant RFP, The Women’s Fund’s 2021 grants will be awarded through the Stark Community Foundation’s Immediate Impact Alert to address the urgent needs of Stark County women and children impacted by the pandemic.

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