By Darren Lum

Waking up everyday is a lot easier when there is a purpose.
The road becomes clear. The frustrations become tolerable. The challenges become manageable.
It’s the proverbial light on the horizon, which cuts an illuminated path guiding us through life, with the doubt of darkness around us.

In my conversations with retirees, I hear how they are busier with their post-work life than they ever have been before. It can be with recreational activities and hobbies, but many times it is related to volunteering for various service groups such as the the Haliburton Highlands Health Services, the Haliburton and District Lions Club, the Rotary Club of Haliburton, the Haliburton Highlands – Arts Council and the Haliburton Highlands Outdoors Association, to name a few. Some are even involved with more than one group.
These are the people who give. They give money. They give their expertise and skills from their careers. They also give, most importantly, their time and passion, but also to the community. Most who are engaged with what is happening in the community know volunteers are the lifeblood of much of what happens in the Highlands. Without them, our communities in Haliburton County would be a shadow of its current self.
I know this first hand. This comes from my professional experience, working for the Haliburton County Echo and the Minden Times. I’ve seen the effort. I’ve seen the volunteers flipping the burgers, sitting in on meetings to formulate plans for a better future, organizing the golf tournaments with the famous, and the not so famous, but respected for the value they bring to the community.

The past few months for me have been an up and down affair as the editor of the Echo.
I believe I’m making my own contribution to the community, telling stories that promote, that raise questions, that show who we are. I’m not new to journalism, so I know the field isn’t without criticism – it comes with the territory. And when fair is helpful.
However, the internet has provided those who are angry a vehicle to deliver their vitrol without hearing the reaction or measure of sensitivity.
I’ve been a target of criticism for what the Echo isn’t and what it doesn’t do for them. I’m not perfect. I make mistakes. The Echo will not be perfect. It’s created by a small, but dedicated team. We will make mistakes. This isn’t from wilful negligence.
With the negative, there is the positive. The loyal readers who appreciate what they have have let it be known. They tell me on the street. They telephone. They email. It’s appreciated. You see us. We see you. Thank you.

For the challenges I face. For the anger directed at me. For the people who want to see a different Echo. I choose to not ignore you. I choose to accept and gain perspective. I will do what I can. Although effort doesn’t equal execution, I will still do my best, fuelled by a purpose to give back. I believe if you find your purpose you’ll find life. Nothing is forever, but I will do my best for the Echo at its helm – that is my purpose. Good night. I’ll see you in the morning.