Four Years of SOKY Happenings
Feels Like Yesterday, Feels Like Forever
by David Francis
Anniversary Editorial : Page 19 of the June 2011 issue
I just finished paging through the June 2007 issue of SOKY Happenings, and my heart is filled with great pride in what we have become. We have evolved and become so much better than those first 36 pages, thanks in no small part to the many talented people who have helped make it better. While we have been the ones compiling the information and getting creative with the layout, SOKY Happenings magazine is a result of a fantastic, creative and willing community. From the hundreds of talented writers to the dozens of gifted artists — SOKY Happenings is a reflection of a great community.
Having re-read my first editorial, I am reminded of our first issue and what it took to bring it to the community. I remember the hard lessons and sleepless nights it took to create a resource that the community would find helpful and entertaining. I am also reminded of the people who helped, offered encouragement and sponsored our first unpublished issue four years ago. They are good memories, and those memories inspire me still.
Starting a business from scratch is one of the most intimidating things I’ve ever done. Starting with nothing more than an idea — and the willingness to do the hard things — creating a business can seem overwhelming and impossible. It’s not enough to have a concept; you have to consider the little things like accounting, distribution, storage, expenses and, in the case of SOKY Happenings, content, layout, commercial printing and all of the skills necessary to bring it all together. I had experience with some of these things, but I had a lot to learn — and I learned those things because I had to.
If someone had told me that in order to make this business work, I would be required to work nonstop for 50 hours straight, I probably would have taken a pass. Not because it’s a hard thing, but because I didn’t think myself capable of such a task. It was required in order to bring our second issue to press, and I did it — with my wonderful wife, Carrie, at my side — due to the fact that I missed my deadline and had to work each hour until I was done. No naps, no breaks, just work! I had two months to get the first issue to press, but I only had three weeks to prepare the second. Due to the fact that I was still learning the software, hardware and techniques of publishing a magazine, three weeks was not long enough. Fifty hours straight — we just did it and we learned a lot from it, and we never had to do that again.
We had a dream to create something that would benefit the entire community, and from what we’ve been told, we have done it. We accepted the challenges, overcame adversity and had the patience to let it grow and flourish. (The patience part was probably the hardest part.) And so, here we are, exactly four years later, plugging away and doing our best to bring you a magazine you’ll find useful and entertaining.
This magazine has never been about Carrie and myself; it has always been for and about the community. The community has responded in many wonderful ways, from the more than 300 advertising sponsors over the years to the more than 100 writers who have been so eager and willing to offer their contributions to SOKY Happenings and the community.
We have received countless comments, letters and emails from the community that encourage us and let us know that our efforts are appreciated. This praise keeps us going and inspires us to continue to make the magazine better. Sure, we’ve received some criticism, but that is to be expected — and frankly, it is appreciated as well.
Over the years we, have been told that our magazine has helped local organizations and their efforts to raise funds or awareness for their respective causes. We intended to be helpful, and we are grateful that we have been.
Some of the most cherished praise comes from our advertising sponsors, who continually affirm that their sponsorship is helpful to their business. We seek companies that we can help, and we try our best to serve our sponsors and offer them value. When we receive comments that confirm our intent, it is most gratifying.
I stated our purpose in my first editorial four years ago as follows: “In short, the SOKY Happenings magazine will be focused on people, places and events in our community. It will be written by and for the people of South Central Kentucky. It will focus on the places to go, things to do and people who make it happen.” Sure, it has evolved into a little more than that, but we have remained true to our vision and will continue to do so.
There is one more memory I would like to share; it happened about two years ago, and it touched me so deeply that I’ll never forget it. I received a phone call from what sounded like a very old man. He asked me who I was, and once he was convinced that I was the person he needed to talk to, he proceeded to tell me how SOKY Happenings had changed his life. The man told me that he was in his 70s and had been a shut-in with his now-deceased wife for the past 10 years. He said he wanted to thank me because the magazine had helped him re-assimilate into the community in which he was born and raised. He said that he didn’t know what he would have done without it. Then he said thank you, then he said goodbye, then he hung up. I sat there with the phone in my ear, my jaw dropped, and a tear in my eye thanking God for the gift.
I guess when comes down to who to thank, I have a lot of people to thank. We are grateful and humbled by the support we have received. We will continue to work hard for you and continue to bring you a magazine you enjoy and can be proud of. It’s the active and involved readers who make SOKY Happenings so popular and effective, and I personally thank you for reading, for supporting our sponsors, for your continued encouragement… Thank you for picking up and choosing to read SOKY Happenings.