In September, we set out to create a way for Columbia to celebrate its difference-makers. On Wednesday, that effort comes to fruition.

We are excited to introduce the Progress Awards, and we invite our readers to join us at 6 p.m. today at the Blue Note to help us honor the inaugural winners, who span an array of passions and interests, but who all share one thing in common: making this community a great place for everyone.

On the back page of Wednesday’s paper, look for a list of all the nominees and the categories of the awards. If you can’t make the event, look for the special section in Thursday’s Missourian, with in-depth interviews with each of the honorees.

Because our mission is twofold — to serve the community and educate journalists — this event serves both ends.

We believe one of the jobs of the newspaper is to recognize what’s working as much as what’s not, and the people who were brought forward in this program showed us there is a lot that is working. It’s exciting and refreshing to take a moment and recognize that. Another, perhaps more important, job of the newspaper is to listen. And in this event we only listened to you — every nomination was sourced directly from the community.

Journalism classes worked on different aspects of the program, one handling the nominations and interviews, another handling the event plan itself. Students honed their skills and learned more about the community while doing it.

This is the first of what I hope are many iterations of the Progress Awards. The secret to its success will be the involvement of the community. I hope to see you there.

  • I'm director of community outreach for the Columbia Missourian.

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