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Looking Back on a Year of the Unknown

March 16, 2021
by Beth Thomason

One year ago uncertainty and fear about an unknown virus wreaked havoc on our world. March 16, 2020, Warren gathered the FUEL team, and like many other people and companies unsure of what to do but wanting to do the right thing, sent everyone home, computers in hand, and said, “We’ll be back in the office in a couple of weeks.”

That was a year ago.


It seems like a lifetime. There have been life-changing losses and tremendous struggles these past 12 months. It’s hard to believe that in this day and age, a virus could shut down the world. But it did. And here we are.

Reflecting on the past year, we’ve seen sorrow, and we’ve seen triumphs. Many people have suffered much heartbreak and loss that will take a long time – if ever – to recover. Loneliness, depression, death of loved ones, broken marriages, homelessness, hunger, closed businesses, loss of jobs. The pandemic hit hard, but we’ve seen resilience and strength. We’ve seen hope. Companies have been resourceful. Creativity has soared. Communities have bounced back. People have come together to help those in need. 

A few of our FUEL team members took a moment to record their thoughts on the past year – from when they first learned about the COVID-19 shutdown to what they miss most about pre-COVID life. 

In our timeline below we highlighted some of the defining moments during the pandemic and remembered a few of the lighter moments that kept FUEL going. While reflecting back on the past 12 months, our intent is to recognize the realities of the pandemic while showcasing the strength and resilience of humankind and inspiring hope as we see a twinkle of light at the end of this dark tunnel.

COVID-19 Timeline

March 7, 2020: First confirmed cases reported in S.C.

March 13:

Major sports events cancelled – Augusta National cancels the 2020 Masters tournament

March 15: K-12 schools closed through March 30

March 16: First COVID-19 related death reported in S.C.

FUEL team packed up and went home to work remotely. “See you in two weeks,” Warren said!

March 17: Dine-in services at restaurants and bars shut down

First Hot Sheet team meeting held remotely via Zoom – that was a tricky one!

March 23: Social distancing policy enacted in S.C.  

FUEL blocks off 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. for team members with children to allow time for eLearning

March 24: Schools officially closed through April 30

March 27: Stay at home quarantine mandate extended 

March 30: S.C. public beaches close

March 31: Non-essential businesses and venues ordered to close for 15 days

April 7: Statewide “home or work” order enacted

April 15:  

April 22: Schools officially closed for in-person instruction through the end of the school year

FUEL morning zoom “Hot Sheet” meetings part of the new norm here

May 11: S.C. restaurants allowed to reopen for dine-in services with restrictions

May 13:

May 18: Close contact businesses, such as hair salons, gyms, and spas allowed to reopen

June 1: COVID-19 death toll in S.C. reaches 500

June 11: Restaurants and bars prohibited from selling alcohol after 11 p.m.

June 17: FUEL rolls out Bonusly – our favorite way to give recognition virtually to our co-workers

June 23: Face masks required while in public in City of Greenville 

July 8: FUEL kicks off work for FUEL for Good Grant Q3 Winner: Beyond Housing It was an honor to work with a nonprofit focused on one of our most basic human needs – shelter – during such uncertain times.

July 30: Masks required at dining establishments in S.C.

August 5: State requires masks in restaurants, state government buildings, and at large gathering venues and events.

August 26:

August 28: FUEL delivers care packages to the team to share the love – and now it’s a regular thing.

October 5: Capacity limits at restaurants lifted in S.C. 

October 9: FUEL kicks off work for FUEL for Good Grant Q4 winner: Feed and Seed. We were privileged to help this nonprofit organization spread the good news about its mission to get fresh, local, affordable food out to the community knowing that many local families were struggling to make ends meet during the shut down.

October 12: Ryan joins FUEL team

October 16: FUEL holds an outdoor gathering for some barbecue and much-needed, socially-distanced together time with the team! 

October 21: Ely joins FUEL team

December 4: Beth joins FUEL team

December 14: First vaccines administered in S.C.

December 17: Virtual FUEL Christmas Party featuring holiday music, cocktails, and gift exchange

January 1: 2020 ended (thank goodness!), New Year rolled in…COVID didn’t magically disappear

January 11: FUEL kicks off work for FUEL for Good Grant winner: Bridges to a Brighter Future

February 11: Virtual FUEL Valentine’s Social – complete with cheesy music, artsy craft, and cocktails

February 12:

February 27: Greenville American Advertising Federation (AAF) held its annual ADDY awards at a socially-distanced, drop-in style event, and we were honored to receive three gold and two silver ADDY awards in recognition of the work we were able to do during 2020 in the midst of a pandemic. Two of the ADDYs were for pro bono projects for nonprofits – work that took on even more importance for us during the pandemic.

March 16, 2021: 7,849 reported COVID-19 deaths and 454,683 cases in S.C.

(source: SCDHEC )

While it’s hard to believe that we, like many other companies, are still working from home one year later, we continue to remain positive and productive through collaboration, creativity, and virtual time together. We hope in the coming months we will be able to look back at this timeline and see how far we’ve come in reaching that light at the end of this dark pandemic tunnel.

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