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Community Voices (Gilbert): Community is stepping up as we work together to get through this crisis

A quiet street with no walkers, no runners, no cars, the peaceful sight of lights glowing in the middle of the night and the fresh smell of rain.

A few weeks ago, you would have thought this was the description of a small town in the middle of the country — certainly not downtown Westminster at 8:30 on a spring evening.

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What is occurring in all of our lives is unsettling, scary, and profoundly humbling. We started hearing terms like, “uncertain times,” “new normal,” and pandemic. Our day starts with new case numbers and death statistics. We question our own mortality and the future of our world now more than ever before.

Despite all the negative and scary news, I have seen “lights” shining in many people. A world which once seemed divided because we were Democrat or Republican is now joining together as it seems everyone is focused on trying to help their community.

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Factories that cannot make their signature products are making other products to save lives, volunteers are making face masks, food is being prepared for the homeless, random people are donating pizza and lunch to emergency responders, and the list goes on.

Many jobs had to be quickly moved to telework so that services could continue to meet the continuing needs of our citizens. Employees worked together in an amazing and quick fashion, and did so professionally, swiftly, and without complaint despite many challenges. Many of us were simply not quite ready for an entire business to telework at one time.

Within days many of us learned in quick order that we would be performing our jobs via teleworking or as a drive through. What once was routine is no longer.

Many of us have learned new forms of communication, like using Zoom and Google Hangout to have a business meeting. Many folks dug up old email lists just to connect again. Churches are using YouTube and Facebook Live.

We, as a community, according to our history and tradition, are rising up to help and to support each other. We are refusing to shut our doors or our hearts. We are using other means to connect to friends and family.

Families stopped being busy and now we are sharing old traditions of family game time, movie time, dinner together at the same table and home cooked meals or delicious take out. Parents and children have now been forced to work together to turn their playrooms and living rooms into offices and schools.

But where do we go from here?

COVID-19 is here — and here to stay. It is not going to go away any time soon. We will have to keep working together and keep brainstorming on ways to connect and help others. We will have to come up with new procedures and protocols once the “curve” flattens to ensure citizens remain safe.

We will rely on faith and each other now more than ever. I know we will get through this, we will rise up and be a better community. We have to come up with a way our “new normal” will feel normal and we will do it together.

Ann Thomas Gilbert is a member of the Westminster Common Council.

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