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…”