GUEST COLUMN: 2020 brought out the best in our people

Glenville
PHOTOGRAPHER:

Categories: Guest Column, Opinion

By Chris Koetzle

For The Sunday Gazette

This year brought us our share of challenges.

On top of the global pandemic, civil strife and a contentious national election, 2020 also happened to coincide with the town’s bicentennial.

These events provided our organizers with significant issues and dampened our celebratory plans.

A pandemic of this magnitude was itself an exceptional event.

We don’t see these often, and although it disrupted our lives and caused great hardship and loss for many, it also did something quite unexpected: It shifted our focus to what’s most important to us — the people in our lives.

Because of this pandemic, we pivoted from the idea of holding big events to celebrate our past.

Instead we were redirected by necessity to focus on one another’s well-being, and in doing so we did something more important than celebrate: We gave ourselves in service to each other.

Because of this, we added to the town’s long history. The story of our town is no longer just about broomcorn or the transition of farming to suburbs.

It’s not simply about the growth of commerce and the town’s role in the development of infrastructure.

Now it can be said that in a time of crisis, each of us responded with compassion and put our fellow residents above ourselves.

The story of our town is our people.

We rallied when we saw our small business owners in need and we launched numerous programs that included small business loan relief, enhanced marketing for small businesses and gift-card programs to help support each of them.

We also found our compassion in the town’s deep and unending support for of our most vulnerable: our seniors and those in need.

As a town, we worked to launch several programs to ensure they were safe, had access to food and other basic essentials, and that we were here for whatever they needed.

These included hot meal deliveries, a grocery shopping program and social outreach efforts, to name a few.

This spirit of Glenville also manifested itself in our many employees who never stopped working, never complained about conditions and never abandon our residents. They jumped into action under difficult circumstances, and helped find solutions to challenges while working in partnership with me to ensure we kept everyone safe and continued providing our residents with critical services every single day.

The many that needed us had us there for them because our employees stayed on the job and delivered front-line critical services, and I have never been prouder of them.

Most recently we saw that spirit in the numerous volunteers and employees who came together to deliver a holiday parade to our residents in a short time and under difficult conditions.

We knew residents needed some holiday cheer.

All the work of these exceptional groups and people paid off when we saw the faces of all those children light up as they drove through and viewed the lights, dancers and of course, Santa.

For a moment, those children were filled with holiday magic, and once again our volunteers and employees delivered exactly what the community needed.

This is the story of 2020 for me: That although we faced great adversity, we saw the greatness of our people.

It was a time when we saw our volunteers, employees, first responders, front-line workers, small business owners and all of our residents come together to lift our community during a time of need.

They are what I will forever remember as I look back at this fateful year, and I will be thankful for them.

Chris Koetzle is the supervisor of the town of Glenville.

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