In the middle days of Twitter, a hashtag started in Fort Wayne. #callitoff was the tweeted cry of high school students begging Curtis Smith to include enough snow in the weather forecast to call off school the next day. It was a pretty powerful social media experiment. It gave students a chance to connect with the guy on the TV.
Curtis left TV for Parkview Health. He emceed events fundraising events in the community and at Parkview. Eventually, as Corporate Director for Community Engagement, chaplaincy and volunteers began reporting to him. He became my boss’s boss.
In March, 2020, a bunch of people wished that #callitoff would work with the rising number of COVID-19 cases. Instead, Curtis lead a team that created a daily video program called The Daily Dose.
As many coworkers began working from home, and as we all were wondering what was happening, the daily video, anchored by Curtis, was a way to connect. There were interviews with top leaders and front-line workers. There were conversations with co-workers from all of our hospitals, and from every department. There were links to resources that would help with food, with answers, with policies. And there was always, at the end, a brief prayer from one of our Parkview chaplains.
The tech room in our conference center was turned into a control room. The room where banquets used to happen became a video set (and a place for packing meals). And the show ran for 10 months.
As we worked together, I began to learn about the hosting skills and the heart of the guy I’d only ever seen on a TV screen. His socks were a highlight, as was his interest in the people he talked with. I was grateful for his compassion and his humility. And we shared a couple hard moments, like the one he talks about in the Foreword.
When it came time to put this collection of prayers and reflections together, I asked Curtis to write the Foreword, since he had heard all of my Daily Dose prayers already. He graciously agreed.
He’s moved from Parkview to Crosswinds, an organization that helps teens and families across Indiana. He’s helping them tell their story. I’m grateful that he’s part of my story.
For Curtis’s Foreword and the rest of the prayers, see God. We Still Need You: A Year of Pandemic Prayer and Practice From a Hospital Chaplain..