The New Reality.

I am an optimist — not the club, but I do tend to look at my glass as usually half-full rather than half-empty. With this in mind, I have been looking for the silver lining in the effect the coronavirus has been having on our communities. When we look and listen to the barrage of news reports, it’s hard to put any kind of a positive spin on it.

I think however, we are going to find as a race of people we will rise above the negative effect this has on our communities, workplaces, schools, churches and families. We are beginning to hear of great acts of kindness. Not since the Second World War or the events of 9/11 have we needed to come together like this.

Like everyone, our Prior Lake Rotary Club cancelled our in-person meetings. Instead, we had our board meeting by conference call this morning. It took a little bit of patience and experience, but we got our business done. Rotarians by nature are people of action. We tend to see a problem and ask, how can we fix that?

This morning we discussed how we could help our community and support our little part of the world. Here are some of our actions:

We suspended in-person meetings for 60 days.

We split up our membership list and will each take a few people. Our goal is to make sure we keep in contact with members and check to see if there is anything they need.

We looked at community organizations that will be under pressure to provide services to the community. We donated $5,000 to the CAP Agency food shelf and $5,000 to R.O.C.K., which are collaborating on feeding schoolchildren.

What can you do in your neighborhood?

Start a neighborhood social media network.

I belong to a Facebook group in my neighborhood. I am starting to see postings about families sharing day care responsibilities and ride-sharing or asking if anyone in our neighborhood needs help getting meals to older or younger people.

Partner with people at your place of worship to contact shut-ins or families in need.

Look to friends and family to share or trade items you may have in surplus. I have pledged not to buy anything from those that are hoarding items from the store shelves.

So where are the benefits I talked about earlier? I think some of the benefits coming out of this are that families with school-age children will learn a new appreciation for how tough a job it is to teach. I also think these families will gain a new closeness born of spending more time helping their children with lessons and homework.

I hope that families will achieve a new independence from the television and start looking at playing board games or cards and other things they can do together as a family.

With the warmer weather coming, I believe we will spend more time outside and perhaps be able to help each other out. This alone will build stronger neighborhoods. I also believe we might see less of a dependence on our governments and more on each other.

Bottom line, be the neighbor and friend you have always wanted to be.

Harry Algyer lives in the Prior Lake-Savage Area School District with his wife and college-aged daughter. He is involved with a number of volunteer groups in and around the area, including the Prior Lake Rotary Club, and is a retired police chief.

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