I’m no longer under the age of 40. I’m 46, and if you round off that number, it means I’m closer to 50 than I am 40, which is a real bummer.

But I still remember those years in my 30s when I was raising three kids, moving up in my career and trying to find balance between my sense of volunteerism and sheer exhaustion.

It was an important and meaningful time in my life, but it wasn’t always easy.

There were struggles, frustrations and disappointments, but what I remember most about that time is the overwhelming pride I felt for my family, my career and excitement about what was to come.

I had fallen in love with this community I now call home and I was looking for ways to serve.

For the past couple of months, the Empire-Tribune has been working on a new project, 40 under 40.

The magazine, coming in the Friday, March 24, edition of the E-T features 40 local individuals under the age of 40 who are making a difference in Erath County.

It’s a project I have wanted to do for many years and one I pitched to my former bosses without any success. But this year I got lucky.

The publisher of this newspaper, Clarice Touhey, and Advertising Director Shannon Simmons shared my vision for this undertaking and saw its value from the beginning.

And so did you.

After issuing a callout in the newspaper, online and on social media, we received more than 90 names of people worthy of being featured. It was amazing.

The editorial team haggled over who would make the final 40 and a flurry of interviews began taking place.

We are thrilled with the final product and hope you are too.

We are keeping the names of those we have featured under wraps, but they come from all walks of life. They are mothers and fathers, business owners and athletes, young professionals, coaches and teachers.

Some you may know, others you will not. But what they all have in common is a love for this community and dedication to serving others.

I have been the managing editor of this newspaper for almost 10 years and I can tell you with absolute certainty I have never been prouder of a project.

It was a much-needed reminder of why I chose a career in community journalism and how lucky I am to practice in a community like ours.

This was a true labor of love and I hope you enjoy reading it as much as we enjoyed putting it together.

Sara Vanden Berge is the managing editor of the Empire-Tribune. She can be reached at 254-968-2379 ext. 240. Follow her on Twitter @ETEditor.