It’s been about a year since I went home on a Friday night and instead of preparing to cover my first town meeting for 2012, I was mourning the sudden loss of my job.

With the shutdown of VillageNet Media, I found myself without a paycheck. Worse, I was reeling from the unexpected separation from the coworkers I considered family.

During the next two weeks I spent a lot of time wondering – sometimes fearing – what the future might bring.

Then I got a call from a former coworker who is now the news director for Courier Publications LLC, Dan Dunkle. He asked me to join the pool of former VillageNet Media employees who were going to resurrect The Republican Journal, The Courier-Gazette in Rockland and The Camden Herald.

After spending two weeks as an unemployed journalist and at that point having been rendered just this side of insane – you can only clean your house so much – how could I refuse?

Well, that brought on a whole new set of worries – chief among them concerning the new cast of characters who would come to work at the Journal. I had become accustomed to my former editor, Steve Fuller, my former co-reporter, Ethan Andrews, and our advertising representative, Pam Schultz, I wasn’t sure how long it would take for a new team to come together.

When I arrived at the first organizational meeting, I was so excited to see Pam, and I think we did a little happy dance before the meeting started, if I remember correctly. It was so cool to see the lady I had worked with for years. I always looked forward to the ridiculously funny jokes she’d share with me, and the one-liners she’d drop to make me smile in the midst of a crazy deadline day.

The first to arrive was Ben Holbrook, who turned out to be a great find for the Journal, as well as someone I found it impossible not to get along with. Ben’s ability to put out tons of stories in a given week and to get to know our community easily was a huge plus, and his quick wit and fantastic sense of humor soon became a welcome addition.

Then came our new editor, Dan West. Dan hit the ground running, and before we knew it he knew many of our town columnists by name, and even recognized some based on writing style. He got to know the local issues affecting our community, and, like Ben, he is also getting to know many of the people in Waldo County who have long frequented the Journal office.

Then former Journal copy editor Sarah Reynolds took the job as our office manager. Sarah, hardworking and calming at the same time, does much more than her job title implies. Along with keeping our office organized and helping our readers and advertisers with their day-to-day needs, she also keeps track of all of us yahoos – like Pam says, that’s a lot like rounding up kittens.

And there are others I have met along the way whom I would not have had the pleasure of knowing were it not for this new company.

I have enjoyed working with Searsport District High School junior Mariah Albanese. Mariah pens our School Scoop column, where she highlights the happenings in Regional School Unit 20. Getting to know her has been a gift – she is an engaging young woman who is full of ideas, and is always enthusiastic about trying something new. I have been so excited to see her growth, and I look forward to working with her next year. I’m sure she will continue to build on her already fantastic skills.

I have also befriended a resident at the Maine Coastal Regional Reentry Center in Belfast, Shawn Adams, who writes a column for the Journal discussing his experiences and those of his fellow residents as they prepare to transition back into the community. I have seen few people with as much drive to change their lives for the better as Shawn, a passion he has exhibited through his own attitudes and actions. I thank him for sharing his journey with us, and wish him all the best when he is released. I am sure Shawn will continue to give back in many ways, and I can’t wait to see how the community benefits from his contributions.

I could not have predicted the events of the last year, but looking back, I wouldn’t change any of it. To do so would change the likelihood of my getting to know, or getting reacquainted with, all of these great people who grace me with their presence each week.

Thanks to all for the gift of knowing you.