It’s The Little Things In Life

By Mary Stanley
Public Relations / Marketing Coordinator

So, here we are in the middle of summer—halfway through another year. While we could bemoan how quickly time is passing, it’s more exciting to think about how far we have come in a short amount of time. Less than a year ago, masks were mandated in all public places and gatherings were reduced to small intimate groups. Talk of a vaccine was just that—talk. But, by January, vaccinations were available and the first shots were being administered. The demand for these vaccines—the key to freedom, independence, and peace of mind for many people—was extremely high. Websites crashed as users flocked to get appointments. And now, just four months later, vaccines are as plentiful as strawberries in June. With so many people in the state now vaccinated, mask mandates have been relaxed to the point that vaccinated people no longer have to wear them in the grocery stores and other public places. Concerts have resumed; people are traveling again—life is beginning to return to normal—or pretty close to normal.

And people are ecstatic about this progress—which makes me ponder: was this pandemic some kind of divine intervention intended to remind us to slow down, to appreciate the small things in life—like going to eat at a restaurant or visiting with family and friends, or hugging the people we love?

While congregate care settings like New England Village must continue with mask requirements, we are happy to be able to lift other restrictions and return to life as it was prior to 2020. At the end of June, for the first time since 2019, we welcomed 150 people to our campus to celebrate the kick off of our two-year strategic plan. Not only did this event bring back memories of the days before the pandemic when these gatherings were the norm and not the exception, it gave us hope for the future. We now look eagerly toward September when we will once again hold our annual Family Day event. Yes, things will be a bit different this year—we may have to cancel if there is rain; and masks are still required, but that should not detract from the wonderful experience of gathering together with family and friends to celebrate. And after nearly two years of being apart, this year’s Family Day is sure to feel so much sweeter and be appreciated on a much higher level. I guess Joni Mitchell was right when she sang, “don’t it always seem to go that you don’t know what you got ’til it’s gone.” May we never take for granted again the gathering of friends and family, and, of course, good health.


Photographs and Memories

By Mary Stanley
Public Relations/Marketing Coordinator

There is an adage that says we should appreciate the present because some day we will look back and realize these were the “good old days.”  Well, for many people, especially parents who have been juggling home schooling, work, and family, if any part of 2020 and the pandemic is ever considered the good old days, it might be frightening to think about what the future holds!

That said, March 2021 is faring a bit better than March 2020. This month, as many of us received our first and second vaccines, things seemed to be looking a bit brighter.  Even the weather reflected this feeling. March came in with a roar but seemed to exit as a little lamb, with warm, spring-like days that had many of us venturing out for walks and enjoying the outdoors again.

Weather, it seems, has an enormous impact on our emotions. Yes, sunny days tend to have most of us whistling while rainy days can cause us to feel a bit down. But, what if we changed our attitude toward the weather. I would challenge you to find as much joy in a rainy day as a sunny one. Rainy days can provide the perfect excuse to stay inside and read a good book or watch a good movie. They can offer the perfect backdrop for completing indoor projects, like cleaning a closet or, on my list for 2021, going through all my old photographs and organizing them. Nothing screams good old days like looking at pictures from another era in our lifetime. And those images seem to serve as a time machine, transporting us back to the days when our children were babies…we can almost feel their breath on our neck again.

We look at those photos and smile at how young we were; some evoke such strong memories that we can recall exactly what was happening and what we were laughing about when the shutter was clicked. Other photos can tug at our heart—especially if the people in the picture are no longer with us. Still, it can put a smile on our face as we recall those people and how much they meant to us and what they brought to our lives.

As we close out the month of March and look to April and the showers that this month is noted for, I encourage you to find pleasure in those rainy days, whether with a good book, a movie, or a happy memory.




Farewell 2020

By Mary Stanley
Public Relations/Marketing Coordinator

With less than 31 days until 2020 is officially over, it’s fair to say that most people are more than ready to bid it good riddance. When we ushered in this new year and new decade, we were filled with hope and optimism. Visions of all the wonderful things that lie on the horizon danced in our heads—we were so blissfully ignorant of what was about to come. To say that this year has been a challenge is an understatement. It began with wildfires that nearly took out the entire continent of Australia before morphing into a pandemic that shut down the entire world. We weathered wildfires up and down the west coast, murder hornets, and in Massachusetts—we felt the earth move under our feet (you know you just sang that). We had so many hurricanes and tropical storms, we had to go into the Greek alphabet to name them! And just when you thought things could not possibly get any stranger, somebody must have channeled Dorothy and Auntie Em, because we got a tornado warning on a cold day in November.

This is the year that took and gave back and took again. The President was impeached, acquitted and, in November, voted out. Harry and Megan said, “peace out” to the Royal family and decided to become one of “US.” We lost some truly great celebrities, musicians, and sports figures, including Hugh Downs, Carl Reiner, Regis Philbin, and Eddie Van Halen. Gale Sayers is together again with best friend and teammate Brian Piccolo and when Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg died, females across the nation mourned her loss as they sang, I am woman hear me roar.  And then Helen Reddy died! If Greatest Game Show Host of All Time is the answer, then Who was Alex Trebek is certainly the question, and we lost him, too.  No, a year does not get much worse than this one and I suspect it will go down in the history books as the one that shouldn’t have been.

And yet, for all that we have been through, we still look to 2021 with the same optimism and enthusiasm we had for 2020, fully believing that things are going to get better again. Given all that has happened this past year, how can we possibly have any hope left? The answer is simple….we are human beings with an incessant capacity to remain hopeful. Even I, a self-proclaimed pessimist who not only sees the glass half-empty, but also suspects there is a leak, am holding onto the belief that 2021 will be a good year. I firmly trust that a successful vaccine will be available this spring and that we can all go back to living as we did before COVID; our masks will become mere symbols of that terrible, horrible, no good, very bad year and we will celebrate with hugs and high fives.

Where does this hope come from? Maybe it comes from some of the wonderful things that we witnessed this year, despite all the horrors. Here at New England Village, we watched with admiration the resiliency of the individuals we support and the cooperation and positive attitudes they demonstrated when their day to day activities completely changed and they had to adapt to a new way of life. When the pandemic first hit and we put out a call for masks and hand sanitizers, we were overwhelmed by the generosity of this community, with supplies coming in almost immediately and on a daily basis. When we held a campaign to raise money so that we could give bonuses to the Direct Support Professionals who were working the front lines, some nearly round the clock, during this pandemic, generous donors and supporters did not hesitate to answer the call and we raised over $60,000. The outpouring of support that we received from the community along with the positive, can-do attitudes of our staff during some very stressful times have been truly inspiring. From all the random acts of kindness we experienced and witnessed this year, hope springs eternal.

As we enter this holiday season, COVID may alter our celebrations a bit, forcing some of us to celebrate alone or without our traditional large family gatherings. But, I urge you all to keep the faith that life will soon return to normal and even if it doesn’t, we will survive because we are resilient. I would say things can’t possibly get any worse, but I’m afraid 2021 might take that as a challenge and respond by saying, “Hold my beer…”