Last week was one of those weeks in which so many things went wrong, I could have easily found myself questioning my sanity, my profession, my choices in life and more. Computer problems at our Spring Grove office, copier problems at our Preston office, lost money that fell out of my pocket while shuffling a notebook in and out at the county fair and an embarrassing error in one of our special sections.

However, before despair could set in, so many good things started getting my attention that they changed my outlook completely around, making me realize how great it is to live in a small community where people look out for each other and work in a profession that can have such an impact on the lives of the people who call this area home.

Monday night, our reporter covering the Spring Valley City Council meeting found out from the park and rec director that Kuehn Motors of Spring Valley donated $2,500 to help keep the local swimming pool in operation. The local business came forward with the donation after the owner read in the Spring Valley Tribune a story about the council discussing the problems and costs associated with a leak at the pool.

Two other businesses - Ody's Country Meats and the local bp terminal - also made donations after finding out the park and rec budget was so tight, partially due to the costs associated with the leak.

Park and rec director John Fenske noted that he was down when he had to inform the council of the problems at the council meeting two weeks prior, as the problem really cut into his budget, but now his outlook has turned around and he is feeling "up." I can relate to the turnaround Fenske experienced, and I echo his conclusion.

"That is why it's good to live in a small community; people are willing to help out," he told the council when presenting the good news last week.

The next night, a reporter at the school board meeting found out that a local resident had donated $5,000 to bring back the Gateway Academy, a weeklong academic camp that is part of the Project Lead the Way science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) initiative the district has adopted.

The donor, who wished to remain anonymous, was moved by a story in the Spring Valley Tribune that highlighted the support of the Spring Valley Area Community Foundation's donation of $2,500, which enabled local students to attend the camp at no charge earlier this summer.

The first paragraph of the story quoted Superintendent John McDonald as saying, "We couldn't have done it without the support of the foundation."

The local resident clipped the newspaper article, attached it to the check and wrote a nice note to the district, said McDonald. The superintendent visited with this resident, who told him the greatest payback is knowing that there will be a number of youth, including younger and female students, getting that enriching experience in the future.

For the superintendent, the payback was seeing how supportive people in the community are regarding the local school district.

"It was touching to receive that and it was another example of how our community supports education," said McDonald.

For Sue Kolling, president of the Spring Valley Area Community Foundation, it was proof that the foundation is on the right track as the spirit of giving can become contagious. She quoted fellow board member Mark Reps, who said, "One good turn becomes a second, becomes a third, and continues on."

Then the next day, a person who took part in our Strictly Speaking feature in the Bluff Country Reader said that someone she barely knew stopped her on the street and offered her fresh cucumbers after reading that she liked eating vegetables right out of the garden. In Strictly Speaking, we ask residents a different question each week and recently the question centered on gardens and the favorite way to use the fresh vegetables they produce.

It was a small gesture, but an important one that contributes to the quality of life in our communities.

Good deeds like this happen all the time in all the communities that we cover and I bet I could come up with dozens more without thinking too hard. These three just made me take special notice because of the unusual timing of such a string of consecutive good deeds, two of them involving significant dollar amounts, coming so close together during a time of stress for me.

I am also touched that our publications play a role in these and other connections between members of our communities. No other media were at these meetings last week that produced such good news and no other media highlights the lives of our residents so deeply, whether it is through simple question and answer features asking for their preferences or in-depth profiles of local people doing something especially worthy or interesting.

The credit goes to the people of the communities that care and look after one another. I'm sure they would find a way to help without us. But, we are proud that our news publications can play even a small role in fostering these important connections in the communities we cover so that all our lives can be enriched together.