Gifts to Our Community: Shopping Local, Connecting, Donating, Sharing

by Mila Besich, Mayor, Town of Superior

Without exception, 2020 has tested everyone’s resolve. As a longtime member of the Superior Optimist Club, I have done my best to remain positive and stay focused on the bright side of the chaos that has characterized this past year.

These arduous times have made me even more determined to be a better human being, using my servant leadership position to bring out the best in people and do my utmost to help make life better for everyone in our very special community.

Our holiday traditions may look very different this year because we must continue to factor in COVID-19 safety protocols. Clearly, everyone is wishing that the new year ahead will not be beset by the setbacks and disappointments that typified much of 2020.

As 2020 comes to a close, my focus is keenly centered on how my service can be a gift to others and to my community, and how can others join me in bestowing their gifts to others. Throughout my life, I have found that giving to others brings much joy, and this was never more apparent to me than this year.

Each one of us has the ability to give to others — our families, neighbors, friends and communities. For me, my position as Mayor of Superior is an extraordinary opportunity for me to give as well by serving all citizens of Superior.

I am inviting you to join me in finding ways to give to our community because so many of our Superior families and local organizations are in need of and would welcome a little extra love.

1. Shop Local, Shop Small, Shop Creative! Now more than ever, shopping locally is important not only to our local business owners but also to our local municipalities. Maybe a gift this year is a trip to one of our local attractions in Pinal County such as the Boyce Thompson Arboretum (hint, hint). Give a variety of gift cards to local restaurants and shops, it might inspire someone to try to a new place, instead of a chain establishment. I have seen many of our local businesses pivot to accommodate consumers; a gift of a cookie decorating kit from a local baker might bring joy to a family and help out a small home-based baker.

2. Make the time to connect with others! The pandemic has shifted our gatherings at meetings and other community events. Consider hosting a holiday party online, invite a friend or colleague for a hike or walk in a favorite local park. Staying connected is important, and just about everyone could use some human companionship. This year may be the year I actually send out holiday cards, because connecting outside of the digital world is a nice way to stay in touch and connect with family and friends.

3. Donate! Shift some of your gift-giving and holiday entertainment funds to our local nonprofits. Our food banks and domestic violence shelters are always in need. Support local trail and park associations; many of them have seen an abundance of use, but not an increase in donations to support maintenance and operations. Consider becoming a member of a club or organization, even if it just to pay a membership fee. These organizations help to bring vibrancy and sustainability to our communities, and when we support them, our community thrives.

4. Share! One of the things I found special during the early days of the pandemic and the stay-at-home orders was the time we had to bake and cook. Soon, it became a challenge to test my culinary skills but also to share the results with my friends. We shared cookies and other treats by dropping them off, often as a welcome surprise. Make a list of a few people who could use a treat and drop them off. If baking isn’t for you, one of our local bakers most certainly would welcome your patronage. Share your time, volunteer at a local food bank, dog shelter or even help a neighbor with some yard work. There are plenty of ways to share your time in safe ways.

As this year comes to a close, I will look back at it with a fierce commitment to be a better human with a mission to bring out the best in others. This is especially important to me because I was given the gift of being able to serve my community and lead with passion.

As I reflect back on 2020, it will be with deep appreciation for my family and loved ones — who despite my best and worst days — are there for me day in and day out. I will focus on seeking harmony and hopefulness that what we have learned in 2020 will launch us into a 2021 that is abundant in opportunity and goodness.

From my family to yours, Happy Holidays!