This has undoubtedly been a bear of a year. No joke, 2020 has been brutal. And it’s still hanging in there being surly.

BUT… there IS good news in the Quad-Cities!

And every month, we at QuadCities.com, in partnership with our friends at KWQC-TV6 and “Paula Sands Live,” present you with What’s The Good News? a column on some of the positive things happening in and around the area.

So, what’s the good news for December?

Glad you asked…

Local Author Jason Platt Honored For Young Adult Series

Jason Platt, an author/illustrator from Davenport, has once again made the Texas Library Association’s 2021 Little Maverick Graphic Novel Reading List for his “Middle School Misadventures: Operation Hat Heist.”

The TLA is the country’s largest state library association and Platt’s 2019 debut graphic novel, “Middle School Misadventures,” was named to the 2020 list as well.

What's The Good News For December, Quad-Cities?

Jason Platt’s two “Middle School Misadventures” graphic novels, published by Little, Brown for Young Readers.

Released on Dec. 1, the list is a recommended reading list of 83 graphic novels nationwide designed for children in grades K-5. The books were selected by public and school librarians who are members of the Texas Library Association’s Children’s Round Table, which promotes services to children and young people. MSM: Operation Hat Heist (released this past April) is one of 51 books selected for the grades 3-5 category.

Platt said Tuesday it’s a great honor to have his work chosen for the library list.

“It’s a lot of work to create a book like ‘Operation Hat Heist,’ but it’s always worth it knowing there are kids, and the young at heart, who love these stories of mine,” he said. “I never grow tired when I hear how a kid is enjoying one of my books, or from a thankful parent who might have a reluctant reader who is nose deep in one of my books. It means the world to me. I love it.

What's The Good News For December, Quad-Cities?“It’s pretty awesome when you have a group like the Texas Library Association who recognizes this misadventure yarn of mine,” Platt said. “I’m a pretty lucky guy.”

Published by Little, Brown for Young Readers, a division of Hachette Book Group, the Middle School Misadventures series features a group of friends as they navigate the ins and outs of middle school and its unpredictable predicaments.

Young Author Releases First Children’s Book!

Harper Leigh Tapscott’s first book is no turkey — but it does tell the fun and cute story of a very special holiday turkey!

Stevie The Christmas Turkey is an adorable little story that features a tale told by Harper illustrated by her father, Tristan Tapscott. It was published last week on Dreaming World Books and is available here on Amazon.com! Half of the book tells the colorful and sweet story of Stevie, and the other half offers a coloring book activity for kids to help create their own Stevie story.

If you’re looking for a cute book for kids this holiday season, check it out!

Subliminal Cartography Offers Positive Outlook For Troubled Times

While I’m talking about books, I should probably mention my latest novel, Subliminal Cartography, is out in bookstores nationwide. You can order it here on Amazon, or send $16 via PayPal to seanleary@seanleary.com for a personally signed copy!

Subliminal Cartography is about how the decisions you make impact your life and how the paths you’ve walked, the people you’ve met, the What's The Good News For December, Quad-Cities?choices you’ve made, put you on the journeys you’ve taken, and how that has connected you to others and your greater destiny.

Subliminal Cartography follows the winding and strange pathways of multiple generations of the Barstow family, and how a myriad of decisions led to the cascading effects of their lives. But has there been something more, something of which they aren’t even aware, which has been guiding them, a lattice of coincidence and connection beyond their world and understanding?

It’s all part of Subliminal Cartography, a beautifully-written novel leaping back and forth in time and space with a variety of colorful characters who have been united by one distinct symphony which connects us all: Love.

Due to covid restrictions, I’m not able to do any book signings for it at this time, but once we’re out of the covid morass, I’ll be out and about. Until then, you can order it on Amazon or get an autographed copy shipped to you before Christmas by PayPal-ing $16 to seanleary@seanleary.com. Give it a try! I think you’ll like it! (Of course I’m slightly biased… lol)

Some Oh So Sweet Help For Local Healthcare Workers

Tiphanie Cannon, owner of Oh So Sweet by Tiphanie in downtown Davenport, and her dedicated staff, made the day of hundreds of health care workers today, delivering them free sandwiches and lunch as part of their Adopt A Nurse program!

As reported first on QuadCities.com, Cannon asked customers to spend $10 per employee, for Oh So Sweet to make and deliver individually boxed lunches consisting on one of their popular sandwiches, a giant cookie, chips and a pickle.

What's The Good News For December, Quad-Cities?

Tiphanie Cannon

On Nov. 17, Cannon had over 300 sandwiches delivered to Trinity campuses in the Quad-Cities, and today, they delivered 540 boxes for the ICU, Emergency Room, Medical Pulmonary Unit and Medical Telemetry staff at Genesis West, East and Silvis.

“ER and ICU nurses are working overtime to support those who are sick. And non-critical nurses are having to step in to help out too to provide the best care possible,” Cannon posted recently on Facebook. “And because of the high volume of Covid patients right now, nurses are not getting a lunch break. They need something they can grab and go in between patients so they can continue to care for those who are critically ill.”

The six-year-old Oh So Sweet (at 314 Main St., Davenport) has a regular customer who’s a nurse at Trinity Bettendorf, and last Saturday, when Cannon delivered to her, she told her about her “Adopt a Nurse” idea. She replied the nurses would love it and put Cannon in touch with the nurse manager.

They started making sandwiches Saturday afternoon, and six employees made over 300 to deliver on Tuesday to Trinity staff, among a variety of 10 different sandwiches.

The public can order for $10 each, and for any lunches that aren’t purchased, Oh So Sweet covers the rest, Cannon said. “If the public doesn’t

What's The Good News For December, Quad-Cities?

Tiphanie Cannon, right, and Emma Fritz make sandwiches at Oh So Sweet, Davenport.

respond, Oh So Sweet would make up the difference for sure,” she said Wednesday.

Cannon has been overwhelmed with gratitude from others. “Some people have told me it brought them to tears. It’s been positive for sure,” she said.

“Everybody’s counting on the nurses and the hospital staff, and they’re taxed right now,” she said. “They’re stretched very thin. One of the things I can do is feed people, and so I just felt like my staff and I came in on Sunday and Monday – which are our two days off – and we’re able to donate our time and whatever else we could to help them.

“It’s just important to me as a human being to give back, and help where I can, to be honest,” Cannon said. “It’s just the kind thing to do.”

United Way Grants Available

United Way Quad Cities is accepting applications for its new United for Equity Fund grants, with up to $200,000 to distribute — supported by local business and industry leaders as well as individual gifts. Applications will be accepted through United Way’s website until noon Jan. 8.

What's The Good News For December, Quad-Cities?

Rene Gellerman is president/CEO of United Way Quad Cities.

The ideas of 450 Quad Citizens, brought up during 29 small-group conversations at the Quad-Cities Equity Summit in October, have informed and inspired the framework for United Way’s United for Equity initiative, aimed to reduce and prevent racial disparities affecting the education, income and health in the region.

“To achieve racial equity, we must unite as a society and commit to systemic change. This starts by bringing together civic, business and philanthropic leaders to catalyze transformative change in our community,” said Rene Gellerman, United Way president and CEO. “The United for Equity initiative demonstrates an encouraging community commitment to coming together to build a more equitable Quad-Cities.”

“The United for Equity Fund, guided by a diverse group of volunteers, aims to empower local grassroots and nonprofit organizations as well as social entrepreneurs to address the barriers that are keeping too many of our neighbors from opportunities to develop their full potential,” she said.

United for Equity Fund grants will vary in size depending on the needs of applicants, as approved by the review panel in February. There is no minimum or maximum amount applicants can seek, outside of the total fund of $200,000. However, given the fund’s three priorities of strengthening families, empowering the next generation and educating and equipping the community, grants will be awarded to multiple needs and not one single recipient.

To apply, visit www.unitedwayqc.org/apply. For more information, email Karrie Abbott at kabbott@unitedwayqc.org or call 563-344-0330.

Janessa Calderon Named New Executive Director Of The GQCHCC

Janessa Calderon’s young, fast-growing career has led her to exactly the perfect place.

The driven, 26-year-old native of Muscatine, Iowa, is the new executive director (and the youngest Latina in the job) of the Greater Quad Cities Chamber of Commerce (GQCHCC). After more than two years working for the nonprofit, the board promoted Calderon to the position – its only paid staff — effective Dec. 1, 2020.

What's The Good News For December, Quad-Cities?

Janessa Calderon is the new executive director of Greater Quad Cities Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

“I’m very excited about it,” she said Monday. Calderon succeeds Zenaida Landeros, the first Latina executive director of the chamber, who resigned this past spring to become executive director of the Black Hawk College Quad-Cities Foundation.

Founded in October 2008, the GQCHCC has a mission to support, promote and enhance the growth and success of local businesses and to leverage the community’s assets, contributions and unique Hispanic cultural identity to generate new business. With about 300 members, the Q-C Hispanic Chamber supports and promotes the success of its members through networking, advocacy and leadership.

The group not only includes businesses, but area nonprofit organizations, educational institutions and individuals of any background in the greater Quad-Cities region.

Calderon has served several leadership roles for the Hispanic Chamber since 2018 — beginning as the programs and events manager and growing into the membership engagement coordinator in 2019. As executive director, one of her priorities is to be the hub of resources for any level of the chamber’s business members.

Calderon aims to help any business market to the Q-C’s growing Latino community and beyond. One of her goals as executive director is to enhance the reach of the Hispanic Chamber in the community and begin different forms of partnerships that will aid in the Q-C efforts to work in unison.

“In this role, I can carry out the chamber’s mission for our community and the business leaders that thrive in it. I can now better help small business owners by creating online events for the problems they need solved,” Calderon said. “In this role, I can be the point of contact for our corporate members and show them how they can make a difference in our community and in return help them build long-lasting partnerships.”

What's The Good News For December, Quad-Cities?

Calderon is a 26-year-old graduate of Moline High School and St. Ambrose.

She also has been involved with the chamber of by leading volunteer panels such as their Membership Engagement Committee, Ambassador Committee, Marketing Committee, and annual Gala Committee.

Calderon is a lifelong resident of the Midwest and graduated from St. Ambrose University – with a bachelor’s in strategic communications, then earning her Master of Organizational Leadership degree from the College of Business in 2019.

After getting her undergraduate degree, she worked from 2017-18 for St. Ambrose as a Hispanic outreach admissions counselor, working to increase Hispanic enrollment at the private Davenport school.

That’s where she met the Hispanic chamber, which was “very welcoming,” Calderon said Monday. “They introduced me to everyone in the community, which is kind of how this whole thing started.”

Nova Singers Going Virtual For Performance This Weekend

In a crazy year when most theaters and choirs have canceled performances, the Nova Singers have found a way come together in person, to bring some much-needed peace, love and joy into our lives on Saturday.

Under the direction of their fearless, passionate founder, Dr. Laura Lane, the 20-member vocal ensemble will present its first livestream event on Saturday, Dec. 12 at 7:30 p.m. On Facebook Live, “Peace, Love, Joy!” will feature solos, small group performances, and songs by the

What's The Good News For December, Quad-Cities?

Soprano Callen Sederquist sings with Nova Singers outdoors for Saturday’s video.

whole ensemble, with commentary by artistic director Laura Lane, director of choral activities at Knox College, who started Nova in 1986.

“Since we cannot give our annual holiday concert, we have created the next best thing: a virtual livestream event,” she said recently. “You will see and hear videos of the Nova Singers, recorded in August and September, outdoors, unseen by anyone before this moment. The singers chose their very favorite songs to sing for you, including A Shoot Shall Come ForthIn Dulci JubiloIndodana and Unclouded Day.

“The raw emotion in Indodana is overwhelming and the pure joy of Unclouded Day will knock your socks off,” Lane said. “The singers also poured themselves into their videos of solos and small ensembles. You will love hearing the men’s quartet singing Let There Be Peace on Earth, and the trio of men singing O Holy Night is gorgeous.”

“I admit that the idea of live-streaming on Facebook makes me a bit nervous, but with our business manager Darla’s help, I will brave my fears,” Lane said. “We have done this work for you, our dear Nova family, as a gift for this strange and bizarre holiday season.”

Soprano Callen Sederquist, 24, who sang in her first Nova Christmas concert last year, has felt right at home in the polished, beloved choir – which usually performs regular concerts in the Quad-Cities and Galesburg.

This past spring, Lane and Nova planned to perform “A Voice of Her Own,” a program of all female composers, in honor of the 100th anniversary of the women’s right to vote in the U.S. Covid-19 forced cancellation of those concerts.

In late summer, Lane organized Zoom meetings with Nova Singers about reuniting in person.

Lane watched many webinars about Covid and became an expert on the science. She ordered Resonance singer’s masks for her singers both in Nova and Knox College Choir, where she’s taught since 1983.

“It has a structure that comes out away from your lips,” she said of the masks. “In spite of the many layers to protect you and protect everyone around you, the resonance of the singing voice is almost as if you don’t have a mask on…You won’t believe how they sound; it’s like

What's The Good News For December, Quad-Cities?

Laura Lane conducting Nova Singers at the gazebo in Galesburg’s Lincoln Park

they don’t have a mask on.”

“We didn’t want to do it unless every single person felt safe,” Lane said of the 20-member Nova, which recorded outdoors Aug. 25 and Sept. 1 at Galesburg’s Lincoln Park. “Every single voice matters in Nova Singers.”

“The first night went so well – we were so high, all of us, to just be singing this music together, and they sounded amazing,” Lane said.

She asked the singers over the summer for their favorite pieces, to compile the program (which is about 40 minutes of music). She then asked them to prepare to record as if they were doing a concert, including a couple members who never sang those pieces before.

“It was so good, I couldn’t believe it,” Lane said. “They actually took it seriously and they did it. What we’re going to show Saturday, two of them were from the first night, when it was their very first time ever singing that song.”

And there you have it — What’s The Good News for December!

We hope you all have a fantastic, fun and SAFE holiday season! We’ll see you with more What’s The Good News in 2021!

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What's The Good News For December, Quad-Cities?
Sean Leary is an author, director, artist, musician, producer and entrepreneur who has been writing professionally since debuting at age 11 in the pages of the Comics Buyers Guide. An honors graduate of the University of Southern California masters program, he has written over 50 books including the best-sellers The Arimathean, Every Number is Lucky to Someone and We Are All Characters.