This is an unprecedented time.
There is no rulebook titled “How to Handle COVID-19.” There is no manual that gives us step-by-step instructions. There is no answer key. We are making this up as we go.
In times of uncertainty, it helps to focus on what we DO know. Friends, here’s what I know:
We have community that shows up when our neighbors need it the most. Every single time.
Mr. Fred Rogers once said, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.'”
Midland County is not short on helpers. Especially in times of uncertainty.
If you need hope, look to our own backyard. You’ll see it. You’ll see in the school cafeterias, where volunteers are loading breakfasts and lunches that will get delivered so children don’t go without meals.
You’ll see long yellow buses driving up and down the roads, transporting food to families.
It’s visible in the volunteers who show up at Open Door to put together pre-packaged meals and even our own team working to fill the shelves at Salvation Army’s food pantry.
In fact, last week alone, over 20,000 meals were distributed in our caring community.
You’ll see people buying gift cards to support local businesses who had to shut their doors and many families utilizing food take-out and delivery to keep our local restaurants open.
It’s visible in our nonprofit agencies who are collaborating with each other and working hard to support our most vulnerable populations like children, older citizens and ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed).
It’s visible in the kindness, smiles, friendly nods and patience at local grocery stores and markets, even as we keep a healthy distance.
You’ll see it our labor force, who are now working from home, perhaps supporting their children’s education and practicing social distancing to protect our most vulnerable citizens.
We see how our local hospital is working to keep us safe, even launching a new telehealth service that was developed and deployed in under a week.
In contrast, you’ll see those brave front-line workers who are stepping into the crisis to ensure vital services and resources are there when we need them. We celebrate them and the risk they take every day to protect us.
You’ll see the power of people coming together.
Community leaders are working side-by-side to quickly identify gaps, share information and strive to eliminate duplication.
Businesses, funders and individuals are collaborating to provide financial resources that will impact needs of local people today and into the future.
So what do we do in these times of uncertainty? First, we take a breath. Inhale. Exhale.
Then we remember that we aren’t alone. We are united. We are in this together. And isn’t that the definition of community?
To learn more, keep connected and find ways you can help, visit reliefmidland.org.
Holly Miller, executive director of United Way of Midland County, penned this column as part of the Daily News’ Community Connections initiative.