“I hope that we can look back on this time, have a cure for this, and know that the human
race came together differently,” reached over through the phone from Jennie Yonker. Although many are not often acknowledged, the Anchor would not be possible without infinite people coming to work, innovating and doing their jobs. In the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, Jennie Yonker is scraping together all she can to keep her family’s third generation company, J-Ad Graphics, publishing. The Anchor works with J-Ad Graphics to create the monthly physical edition that can be found in corners all around campus. The vision for this article was to slow down and to thank everyone that helps make The Anchor possible. As COVID-19 slows businesses and stalls social gatherings, finding time to demonstrate gratitude to our many moving parts has become even more essential.
A.J. Jacobs has made a living by being, in his own words, a “human guinea pig.” Jacobs’ lifestyle experiments jumped into fame after his 2018 Ted Talk and book Thanks a Thousand which summarize the lessons he learned from trying to thank everyone that was a part of making his morning coffee. In an interview with his local coffee company, Jacobs said “I knew about the farmer and the barista, of course. But there are hundreds of people in between.” Inspired by Jacobs’ quest, I set out to give thanks in a period of time when it feels desperately needed.
However, as I sat down to look over the list of our dedicated staff members and interview a few of the companies that we work with, something miraculous happened. People began to open up and share hope. Not only did I get a glimpse into the thousands of people that play some small role in making The Anchor a reality, I was able to hear the ways in which COVID-19 is affecting each one of them. It’s a mix of gratitude and sadness that seem to only know how to coexist in times of crisis.
Kurt Van Koevering took over his father’s publishing business, ZR Graphics, and now runs it with his brother Kraig. In the midst of the crisis, Kurt said that the core of their business during this time is “to make people have a sense of hope.” They are publishing information on what people can do and what they can’t as well resources that may help those who find themselves without food or seeking to make ends meet. Although he admitted to concerns about the future of his family-run business, he said faith is what is pulling his team through.
The more I leaned into these interviews, the more I was able to see that although I may not be able to go on like A.J. Jacobs to thank everyone that plays a role in The Anchor, gratitude is flammable in these times. ZR Graphics collaborates with J-Ad graphics to print and deliver The Anchor. Our staff writers and section editors pour their visions into their writing and vulnerably pass their words forward to be critiqued. Our photographer goes all around campus gathering snippets to bring life to the articles. After numerous rounds of edits and the final approval from the dedicated Anchor Advisor, Mark Lewison, our Editors-in-Chief, Claire Buck and Ruth Holloway, send final PDFs off to Kurt who turns around and sends them off to Jennie at J-Ad Graphics. They have someone that works in prepress and numerous others who make the printing happen followed by the binding and stapling. A driver from J-Ad Graphics then travels
from Hastings to Zeeland to deliver our paper back to ZR Graphics where Mark picks it up. Our Graphic Design Editor, Social Media Manager, WebMaster and Ad Manager get creative as they think of ways to bring The Anchor to you in new and accessible ways. Thank you to all of these moving parts and I hope that this thank you spreads to those I can’t account for. Both J-Ad Graphics and ZR Graphics work with Central Ink and Abitibi-Consolidated paper company to put our words into something physical. There are farmers, construction workers, baristas, designers and family members that also play a direct role in our production. I don’t know their names or where they are from but all I can say is: thank you, thank you, thank you.
Like all of us, both Kurt and Jennie worry about the future, their teams, and their families, but they infused hope into my research. Navigating reduced staff, slower turnarounds, and uncertainty are prevalent throughout all of these companies. For the first time in her company’s existence, Jennie has had to lay people off and doesn’t know how to ease the anxiety of those still coming into work. People are worried about getting sick and spreading the virus and keeping their jobs and surviving through this time. Although I heard this voice of worry in everyone I spoke to, there was something stronger. Both of these publishing companies are working to give resources and hope to their clientele. They are adapting, staying grateful, and looking to spread Hope. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
Click here to view the Corona Chronicles StoryMap