Elevate Rapid City CEO reflects on first year

October 07, 2020

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When I think about my first year here in Rapid City, it’s hard not to begin and end with Covid-19.  I was four months into the job when the virus arrived in the United States. 

Today as I write this, with cases still rising in South Dakota, the world is a much different place.  A year ago, I didn’t own a mask or flask of hand-sanitizer; plexiglass was something for picture frames.  Now they are as prevalent as bottled water. 

And yet, in the middle of it all, things are still so very much the same.

How can I make such a statement during a pandemic? 

Because we still have our humanity the same as we always did.

What I’ve witnessed in the Black Hills in the last year has been nothing short of amazing.  Neighbors have supported neighbors.  Friends have supported friends.  We’ve protected each other and we’ve come together to support our local businesses community, no matter our political differences, no matter our diversity of background.  Don’t believe what you read in the Two Cents column in the newspaper. People in the Black Hills still care about each other. 

Here at Elevate Rapid City, I’m fond of saying that we’ve thrown the kitchen sink at the crisis, from loan funds to grants to curbside pick-up.  But what I’m most proud of is that we’ve embraced our humanity and have hopefully made the world just a little better, week by week, day by day, moment by moment. 

This humanity was summed up beautifully by Bev Warne (featured on our October cover of Elevate magazine) when she said to me several months ago during a panel:

“We are all related.  We are all one.”

Stay safe and God-speed.

Tom Johnson