By editorial board • 

Signs of the times don’t have to get mired in overwhelming grief

A little encouragement can go a long way, whether the target is a down-and-out neighbor or a nation in the middle of an identity crisis. 

Last week’s race-fueled rallies in Charlottesville, and the horror they generated, sent Americans into a frenzy of shock and anger. Social media erupted into the online equivalent of a mass shouting match, and our verbally impotent president couldn’t muster anything beyond a long-delayed reference to a worthless bromide, finding fault “on many sides.” 

But there’s always hope somewhere. One of the best parts of working in community journalism is no matter how dark the national or international news becomes, there are always inspiring tales to be told locally, in this case about people sacrificing time and body parts to help others. 

Alejandra Cortes of Dayton will fly to Virginia to be honored with this year’s National Donor Memorial Award for Excellence by the United Network for Organ Sharing. It honors “unsung heroes who have gone above and beyond in promoting organ donation in their community,” according to the organization’s website.

In conjunction with numerous friends, relatives and volunteers, including her brother, a transplant recipient himself, Cortes has committed herself to advocating for and educating people about organ donations. 

“It’s important that people know that it can happen to all of us,” she said. “We are humans and we are vulnerable.”

Plowing through vulnerabilities is never easy, especially involving so much personal risk. But local running coach and personal trainer Tiffany Henness brushed that aside to give half her liver to a cousin in need.

The procedure will be carried out next week. Then the recovery process begins.

Henness’s personal and professional life revolves around being active, thus, she’s not just sacrificing half a healthy organ.

But this is a person who asks, upon finishing a marathon, “What’s next?” She sees this as just one more challenge to overcome.

Sound too daunting? Maybe you could emulate Amy Wolff, whose penchant for posting words of encouragement on yard signs has gone viral — to the point where she has orders from 20 states and eight countries for at-cost signs she offers as an antidote to those contemplating suicide.

Wolff’s messages — “You Matter,” “Don’t Give Up” and the like — are simple and unassuming, but surprisingly powerful.

Here’s hoping America’s neighbor nations purchase some uplifting signs and point them our way. We could use the encouragement in these troubled times.

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