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Drew Storey: An appropriate name

At Founders brainstorming names before it was called The Rapidian.

At Founders brainstorming names before it was called The Rapidian. /Kolene Allen

Underwriting support from:


Painting The Rapidian office.

Painting The Rapidian office. /Kolene Allen

Celebrating The Rapidian launch at The Meanwhile.

Celebrating The Rapidian launch at The Meanwhile. /Kolene Allen

I found out early Monday morning: Drew Storey, The Rapidian's content facilitator, had passed away.

After the first hour, I decided I wanted to make a plan. That's how I react. Make a plan, figure out how to fix things so you can be back in control. But the thing was, I didn't know what to put in my plan; nothing I could do would fix things. And if anybody could have control, I definitely didn't deserve to be that person. I could pour myself into that plan and it would still be futile.

Drew and I had a work relationship. Drew had shared many details about his life but others knew his personality far better. I really appreciated having him around and told him often, but my slice of Drew just seems so meager in comparison. We were only beginning to make deposits in the friend bank.

Drew was a wonderful person to be around. He started as a staffer the Monday after we launched but had really been a crucial limb from the beginning of the project. Drew and my shared duty was retention, but I was intimidated by the volumes of reporters signing on, not to mention the backlog of launch recruits we had yet to recontact. I was constantly worried about whether we had the infrastructure ready to support everyone.

Drew, on the other hand, would push fearlessly for more content. As someone who had worked in the news industry, fresh content was his mantra.

His push was really a gentle reminder. "That's not a bad problem to have," Drew would say.

Perhaps it isn't my place to wonder, but if we really do have last thoughts or that final moment of clarity, what were Drew's? I don't know if there's an afterlife, but I don't want to bank on it. At the millisecond—no, nanosecond—that the curtain hit the ground, was Drew comforted knowing he had landed his dream job? That since he had the ability to love, he had lavished most of it on his high school sweetheart and the love of his life? That he had two beautiful and precocious daughters, a best friend? A good relationship with his dad and brothers? Those are more than most people can hope for.

People say that ultimately, everything you put into your career could be lost in a second. Things change so quickly. That's what I moved to Grand Rapids for and what I steep myself in because at my age and with my personality, I want to merge all my convictions and efforts into a meaningful 40 hours.

Whatever his last thoughts were, I'm sure they were about all the rich things in his life.

But my relationship with Drew started out as a work one and it didn't get far enough. The Rapidian is what we automatically had in common. And so while people had far more meaningful relationships with him, I really want to honor Drew in our mutual passion for civic engagement and journalism. I want to make The Rapidian something he can be proud of. He already was, but I want him to swell with pride because we've gotten to the point he's dreamed of: Fresh content on the screen with your morning cup of joe. A community-based site that runs like a well-oiled machine, completely crewed by volunteers who consider one another peers.

I will do whatever I can and then more to realize Drew's dream for The Rapidian, no holds barred. I hope you will join me.

Denise Cheng is the citizen journalism coordinator for The Rapidian.

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Your title says what I've thought about Drew's name since I first met him.  How appropriate that he have a name like Storey, since he was a story teller.  As for his first name, Drew,  that's what story tellers do.  They draw pictures with their words.  I just wish he could have painted more pictures.

That's so beautiful, Gretch. I thought that, too. :)