Nice List 2020

Written by Julie Schillings

Dear Santa,

There’s no disagreeing that this year has been incredibly difficult. Our friends are struggling with fear, grief and loneliness. Many have lost loved ones. We in no way intend to minimize the pain. SPLURGE! has compiled this year’s Nice List highlighting a few of the good things that have happened in 2020 and some exceptional people that make up our community.

Healthcare heroes in Wichita and all over the world are giving it their all: Nurses, doctors, support personnel and cleaning staff are caring for our loved ones. They’ve stepped to the frontline, providing help and hope when patients are at their most vulnerable. No words can express our gratitude to the healthcare heroes whose tireless work and sacrifice is keeping citizens safe.

Thank you to the extraordinary educators who have seized the opportunity to explore new approaches as remote learning and social distancing in the classroom have become the norm. While facing a myriad of challenges in education, students, teachers and families have adapted to new school models. Teachers are leading students through this crisis with patience, grace and compassion. Perhaps more than ever before, teachers are positioned to change the face of education forever.

Wichita’s local restaurants adapted to a carry-out business model when the stay-at-home order closed indoor dining. Creative family packs, take-and-bake meals and exceptional delivery services kept us well fed this spring.

Happy 150th Birthday to Wichita. Incorporated as a city on July 21, 1870, Wichita has come a long way since its beginnings as a trading post and cowtown. It is this very foundation as a center for commerce that is a common thread in Wichita's history through good times and bad. The ingenuity, integrity and entrepreneurship of local citizens will drive Wichita’s progress as we charge ahead in the 21st century.

“Keepers on Parade,” a public art project spearheaded by Together Wichita, commemorated Wichita's sesquicentennial with an installation of 13 new sculptures in parks and other venues across the city. The 10-foot-tall fiberglass replicas of the famous Blackbear Bosin “Keeper of the Plains” sculpture are each uniquely painted by local artists.

A championship 50 years in the making, the Kansas City Chiefs won Super Bowl LIV. Overcoming a double-digit deficit to beat the San Francisco 49ers 31–20, quarterback Patrick Mahomes led the Chiefs to victory in the fourth quarter and was voted the game’s MVP.

Wichitans rushed to adopt and foster pets in 2020. Kansas Humane Society reports over 5,000 pets have been adopted so far this year.

Bella Bonita Designs employs people in recovery, providing them with different skill sets. Whimsical patterns, hand drawn by founder Stella Hankins, are crafted into fashionable masks, giant scrunchies, scarves and accessories. Items are sold online and in local boutiques. Hankins says, “Our intention is to provide a second chance for people in our community. Everyone is affected by addiction, and I want to help in the way I know how.”

Wichita Brewing Company swiftly acquired a license to brew hand sanitizer when the need arose, providing it to Wichita area law enforcement, first responders and medical offices. An estimated 20,000 gallons of hand sanitizer has been produced so far. The local brewery is still in production with the majority of sales now going to local school districts.

One of the area’s newest non-profits, ShowerUp Wichita, is partnering with Church On The Street and other area churches, businesses and individuals to supply mobile shower units, making showers and personal care available to those experiencing homelessness in Wichita and all of Sedgwick County. Their website proclaims: "We aren't here to make dirty people clean...we are here to give hopeless people HOPE!”

Local artist Charles Baughman spent one week outside on the lawn at Mark Arts creating a billboard-size impressionistic landscape painting. Altogether, more than 250 people contributed to the finished product which is currently on display. Additionally, Mark Arts celebrated its 100th birthday in 2020 and sealed a time capsule to be opened in 50 years.

While Hollywood has delayed highly anticipated new releases, we can all thank Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney+ and Hulu for hours upon hours of streaming entertainment in 2020. Cringeworthy as it was, “Tiger King” stars Joe Exotic and Carole Baskin united many as the topic of funny memes throughout the spring.

A somewhat unexpected outcome of months of quarantine is that many people recognized the importance of social connection. Friends and families got creative, hosting virtual game nights, happy hours and spending time with loved ones via FaceTime and Zoom. The art of sustaining relationships and communicating effectively when we can’t be together in person is something valuable we learned in 2020.

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