This week marks my second anniversary working for the Dyersville Commercial and the Cascade Pioneer. Getting paid to talk to people and report their stories is a dream gig for someone like me, who will usually talk to anyone at any time. Here are some of the people and stories that have left an impression on me this past year:

• In March, I did a story about the Kids Racing Club at the Farley Speedway.

Designed for children 12 and under, the club’s goal is to bring families to the track and to help children learn about what goes on at the race track.

The club is the brainchild of Karen Goedert and Mary Heacock. Both women come from racing families. The day I spoke to them, they were signing kids up for the club and holding mini-clinics for the kids. Clinic topics included things like proper etiquette during the playing of the national anthem, as well as what the different color flags mean during a race.

“I want kids to learn etiquette about what to do when the national anthem is played,” Goedert told me. “I also want them to understand racing flags and racing terminology. Once the kids know what racing flags mean, they will have a better idea of what is going on at the track.”

Goedert and Heacock secured donations from area businesses and got race drivers on board to support the club.

Heacock said, “If you show kids you are interested in what they are interested in, you can lead them positively into the future. It’s something positive families can do together.”

I told Heacock I’d make it out to a race during the season to see how they were doing with the club. But the summer got away from me. I promise I’ll be out this season.

• I spoke to Edgewood-Colesburg senior Elsie Ostwinkle in September about her summer trip to Moshi, Tanzania. Traveling with Global Leadership Adventures, Ostwinkle spent two weeks in August working to improve the lives of women and children. Her group helped build a fence around a school to keep it safe from traffic. Ostwinkle also helped at a support group that gave women an education and taught them a trade.

Ostwinkle told me she learned everything goes deeper than labels that are put on people. “When we think of Africa, many people think of pity and poverty,” she said. “How could these people be happy? I found them to be some of the happiest people I’ve ever encountered. They don’t need to be saved like many people think. With some support, they can empower themselves.”

• Anne Noonan from Cascade completed her second marathon in October. Noonan chose to use the Medtronics Twin Cities marathon as a fundraiser for the Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation.

Noonan’s dad died of lung cancer. “I picked the lung cancer foundation because that was what dad had,” said Noonan. She said her father was her inspiration to begin running.

Noonan’s efforts netted the foundation over $1,100. “I’m not a person who likes to ask people for money, but raising money for the lung cancer foundation gave some meaning to the run. It was about doing something for others.”

• In November I met with Laverne “Bud” Domeyer of Petersburg Appliance and Electric for a story on Domeyer’s decision to discontinue the appliance end of the business. We talked about the business, about how he got started and how he used service to combat competition from big box stores.

He went on to tell me how he received a call on Christmas Eve years ago from a customer whose power was out. Domeyer, his son Dave and several other utility workers spent a few hours in -23 degree weather getting someone’s electricity turned back on.

But it was what he said at the end of the story that resonated with me. “It took quite a while. But it was very satisfying to be able to help a customer in need.” He then went on to thank his customers, the communities he served and his church for their loyalty.

To me that really says something, when a guy can be counted on 24-7 and he’s the one thanking others. Big box stores could learn a lot from a guy like Domeyer.

These people reminded me this year what’s good in the world and what’s good about where we live. Regardless of where it was or what it was, they left things a little better than they found it. They made a difference in the lives of others. And they made a difference in my life as well.

Let’s see if year three can top that.