Love in the Time of COVID
With 2020 finally winding to an end, I reflect on a year unlike any other in my lifetime. The pandemic has been surging since March, leaving us with unspeakable losses. More Americans are dying each day than the number killed on 9-11. The resulting economic and emotional devastation is leaving many families without income; small businesses closed; children struggling with virtual learning; and seniors isolated and at risk of life-threatening illness. I sometimes feel a deep sense of sadness when I think about all of these losses. Staying positive is hard when we know that this is not something that will go away quickly. The sober reality is that life will not simply go back to pre-pandemic “normal” when New Year’s Day dawns on Friday.

And yet. I love those words… “And yet." They are words of hope and resilience. And yet, good people continue to step up during bad times. And yet, there have been moments of joy and love and meaning during these past difficult months. I think about the title of the famous novel by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, “Love in the Time of Cholera.” It’s a title that jars me. Love is supposed to happy and easy. And yet, the theme of the book is that lovers love, even in the midst of calamity and plague and violence. As the main character says to his sweetheart, “Love becomes greater and nobler in calamity.”

I think many of us are trying to practice love in the time of COVID. Here at United Way, our love looks like the happy face of a child peering from her window when a box of food was left on her family’s doorstep along with money for her mother to pay the rent. Love looks like the elderly man whose face brightens when there is a knock on his door for his weekly Meals on Wheels delivery. Love looks like the relieved face of the young woman who is finally able to escape her abusive partner and find shelter and a new beginning at Safelight.

What does love in the time of COVID look like? It looks like many of our neighbors facing hard times, neighbors who have seen their lives become brighter and better because of people like you. Together, we can continue to find ways to love in the midst of calamity. We know the hard truth of what lies ahead. And yet, we believe that lighting a candle is better than cursing the darkness.

Thank you for helping us put love into action. We couldn’t do it without you.

Wishing you a peaceful holiday and a hopeful new year,
Denise Cumbee Long
Executive Director
P.S.  We have been delighted to have Ruth Birge and Henry Johnson serve as our 2020 Campaign Chairs this past year. These former United Way Executive Directors and longtime community leaders are wonderful examples of what it means to put love into action. I hope you will take a moment to listen to a quick message from Ruth and Henry in the video below!