Will You Be Interact Studio’s Valentine?By Porter Metzler
With Valentine’s Day 2021 coming up, we at Interact Studio wanted to take a moment to send Valentine’s wishes to a few people who helped make the past year special. We have a lot of love in our hearts for those listed below. Hopefully, they will check “Yes” under “Will you be our Valentine?”
Looking back from Valentine’s Day last year to today, a lot of things have changed. One thing that hasn’t changed is humanity’s capacity to love and be loved and our ability to inspire and to be inspired. That’s why we felt it was important to take some time to acknowledge a few people we love who inspire us on a daily basis.
Six members of the Interact Family each chose a different special someone who helped make the past year a whole lot easier. From puppies to running backs to hairdressers, we’ve assembled quite a list. Now it’s time to answer the question:
Who are Interact Studio’s 2021 Valentines?
Lou Solomon, the founder of Interact Studio, chose her adorable Schnauzer puppy Bella as her Valentine this year. Here’s what she had to say:
“One week before we received stay-at-home orders on March 27 of 2020, I brought home our first puppy in years. A black and white Schnauzer with big brown eyes. We’ve adopted a dozen dogs from 2-3 years and up. But Bella was just 15 weeks.
Overnight she became our essential worker, responsible for belly laughs. Flip flops were for sport, anything she could carry might wind up in the backyard, and she began chewing on the ears of her big brother Odie in total adoration.
Bella continues to safeguard our mental health. About the time the news is just too much, she gallops in with a dismembered toy or treasure from the bushes. She is a reprieve from the stress of Covid-19.
Bella, sweet girl, you are my Valentine. A cherished distraction, pure love and big medicine.”
The Teachers of Collinswood Language Academy
Interact family member Amy Sosa chose to send her Valentine’s wishes to the educators of Collinswood Language Academy, CMS, and educators across the nation. Here’s what she had to say:
“At a time when we are seeing the effects of the pandemic on our education system, my valentine goes out to our educators. Full remote learning is foreign to many – students and teachers alike and teaching 24+ kids in a remote setting is not ideal.
Teachers have had to get creative in order to maintain the interest of their students. As a parent, I have witnessed teachers putting on many hats during these times. Tech-support, emotional support, parental support, in addition to being an educator.
My 10-year old recently had an anxiety attack before a scheduled MAP test. She refused to log into her Chromebook. I was desperate. So I turned to her teacher who reached out by phone to chat and offered words of encouragement.
That phone call, to me, was an example of going above and beyond for the sake of education.
Despite the challenges, die-hard educators who are passionate about teaching and shaping the lives of so many should not go unnoticed. I specifically want to shout out to CMS and Collinswood Language Academy – where my two oldest children attend elementary school. Teachers – we love your passion for education!”
Jess Baryla, Interact’s creative director, chose the one-and-only Ted Lasso of Apple TV fame as her Valentine this year. (If you’ve seen the show, he’s probably your Valentine, too.) Here’s what she had to say:
“My valentine goes out to Ted Lasso. Yes, the eponymous character of the Apple TV show. We all could use a Ted Lasso in our life – an, at times, exhaustingly optimistic coach that helps you be the best version of yourself.
While he leans towards the saccharine side of optimism, he doesn’t promote toxic positivity. He pushes his team to uncover their authentic selves in order to succeed on the field, but more importantly, off.
The character and the show are a bright spot during a dismal year of negative news.”
Darien Rencher of Clemson Football
Susie Adams, Interact Studio’s leadership and strengths coach, is the biggest fan of orange and purple in the world. Why? Because those are the colors that typically signify when a Clemson Football game is happening. For her Valentine, she chose running back Darien Rencher. Here’s what she had to say:
“My Valentine goes to Clemson Football’s Darien Rencher. For those of you who know me, my love for Clemson Football is no surprise. But this selection might be surprising.
Darien is a reserve player for the Tigers and a former walk-on. But he epitomizes soccer great Abby Wambach’s “Lead from the Bench” philosophy.
During the summer, he was one of the leaders of a community-wide social justice march organized by the football team that drew thousands of walkers. In late summer, he joined with other football players across the country to launch the #WeWantToPlay movement that was a catalyst for the start of the college football season.
He was recognized in December with the Disney Spirit Award, given annually to college football’s most inspirational player. I love his passion, his purpose and his leadership.”
Tonya Reid of T.Reid & Company
Porter Metzler, Interact’s social media and content manager, chose Tonya Reid of T.Reid & Company for his Valentine. (Yes, sons are allowed to send their mom a Valentine!) Here’s what he had to say:
“My mom, Tonya Reid, is my Valentine this year (apologies to my girlfriend Rachel, maybe next year). She’s been nothing short of a miracle over the last year and a constant source of inspiration for me.
When we think of essential workers, we always think of healthcare workers, teachers, grocery store employees. However, not many people realize that one of the first groups to go back to working in person were hairdressers.
My mom is the owner of T.Reid & Company, a salon and spa in Charlotte, and has been working in close proximity with clients for months. And she’s done it like a champ. She’s kept herself, her employees, and her clients safe and healthy. She’s stayed positive through it all and spread that positivity to nearly everyone she talks to. Remember kids, spread positivity, not COVID.
But, that’s not why I’m proud of her. While hairdressing is great and all, it’s what she’s done outside of the salon that keeps me inspired. She’s always wanted to be a writer. I’ve heard her talk about it for the 26 years I’ve been here on Spaceship Earth. And for the first time, she’s doing it, and she’s doing it well.
At the beginning of quarantine, many people decided to pick up “hobbies” that lasted approximately 8 days before we realized that watching Netflix is so much easier than trying to make sourdough from scratch. My mom did the same thing with writing, but here we are almost a year later and she’s still at it.
I don’t know when you’ll have a chance to read her words, but based on her tenacity, enthusiasm, and penchant for a good story, it’ll be sooner rather than later. And I’ll have an autographed first edition to sell on eBay when she is famous.”
The Interact Studio Team
Michael Sammut, Interact’s website guru and owner of Four Eyes Productions, chose a group that we can’t help but agree with wholeheartedly. He chose to shout out the entire Interact Studio team for his Valentine. (Aren’t we lovely?) Here’s what he had to say:
“Happy Valentines Day Interact Studio! With all that has gone on in 2020, including the changes we have individually experienced, the augmentation to our lives, and the waiting for things to get better, I feel very fortunate that 2020 truly brought me into 2021 with a new family.
Each team member of the Interact family inspires me, teaches me, individually inspiring me, and helps me grow both intellectually and emotionally in an incredibly uplifting and nurturing environment!
Thank you to everyone and I extend my love and admiration to each and every one of you and look forward to even more wonderful things. Happy Valentine’s Day Team!”
Be Our Valentine
These aren’t the only Valentines we want to send. We have a few more people who need recognition for all they do. Each of the people and organizations below has been incredibly dear to Interact Studio over the years and especially this past year. You all are amazing, lionhearted, kind, moving people who make our lives, and our community, better. Thank you for everything!
- Quinten “Q” Williams, Dedication to Community
- Molly Grantham, WBTV
- Pedro Perez and Cara Capuano, Charlotte Family Housing
- Dawn Cordero, Metrolina Association for the Blind
- Libby Currier, Humane Society of Charlotte
- Bea Coté, Inspire a Difference
- Matt Olin and Tim Miner, Charlotte Is Creative
- Liz Clasen-Kelly, Roof Above
Some Closing Thoughts
While 2020 was a rough year for many, our Valentines prove that there was still a lot to love about the past year. They kept our hearts full and our minds inspired, and we can’t thank them enough. We know they will continue to inspire many into 2021 and beyond!