Congrats, we have survived
One can just feel the energy and excitement as people cautiously come out of hiding after being locked down for the past year.
There is no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll on many folks' emotional well-being. And rightfully so.
I was fortunate to speak at the Exchange Club of Owatonna last Thursday at its weekly meeting. In case you're wondering, the Exchange Club inspires change through family, community and country.
As I shared with the Exchange members, I have a whole new appreciation for animals at the zoo after this past year. They are caged up and with nowhere to go.
That's been us for the past year. We have been caged up in our homes with nowhere to escape except maybe the doctor's office or grocery store.
We are social creatures. Most of us love human interaction and getting together with our friends and neighbors. COVID-19 stripped that away from us, among many other things.
The highlight of the Exchange meeting had nothing to do with anything I said. After being gone for a year, Rev. Russell Rudolf of Owatonna walked through the door for the first time to socially interact in person once again.
Like many other senior citizens, Rudolf had just received his COVID vaccination and felt safe to venture out for the meeting.
Rudolf received a well-deserved and rousing welcome back from the group.
Now retired, Rudolf served as a senior pastor at St. John Lutheran Church in Owatonna for nearly 30 years. He has been a member of the Exchange Club for more than 46 years.
"I didn't realize how much I missed you folks until I walked into yesterday's meeting," Rudolf said after the meeting.
Another member responded, "I have no words for how happy I was to see you come through the door. My wish and prayer are that life will continue to allow you to join us in person on a regular basis."
It was heartfelt to see that kind of bond between the Exchange members. It was even more heartwarming to see people being able to connect again. I'm sorry, but FaceTime and Zoom just don't cut it.
While many people have struggled to stay connected over the past year, I reminded members that the community newspaper, AKA: Steele County Times, is one of the greatest sources of staying connected, pandemic or no pandemic.
COVID has made us realize the importance of life's priorities. And staying connected with each other is one of those values.
We have been publishing a newspaper every week through the worst of the coronavirus crisis. We are attempting to capture the life of Steele Countians in each edition through this crazy time.
We have survived a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic that hadn't been seen for more than a century.
Isn't it time we go in hot pursuit of stamping out the COVID bug? A vaccination will put us well on the way to doing just that.