Personally, 2020 started on a real good note. I had the honor of being the Keynote Speaker of the New Mexico Pest Management Associations Winter Conference. Just prior to my trip, the news had come out about the “Wuhan” Virus. Being in pest control, Zoonic Viruses are always a concern. Having followed the earlier reports in china of a virus possibly infecting people, I was concerned When it jumped to human-to-human ie novel.
February was a bit of a blur. Then there was the prep for my band, The Kenowhere Kilts gigs over the St Patrick Day “weekends”. March 14th we performed at the St James, St Patrick Days Dinner at St Elizabeth’s in St George Hall. Whew! Them are a lot of Saints. During the prep, the impending shutdown weighed on all of us. At the St Patrick Dinner, I made sure there was a real good air exchange in and out of the hall. Some complained about it being a bit chilly. My response was, try wearing a Kilt and get back to me. It was off to Sunny Side after that. They were expecting maybe fifty people. If it was not 300, it was more. The house was packed. Who would have known at the time, it was perhaps Kenosha’s last evening of normalcy we will see for a while?
As owner and operator of Spectrum Pest Control. I knew I would be an essential business. Even then, I told my wife, hang on, this may be 2008/09 on steroids. Never would have thought 2020 would be our busiest year ever! Turns out when one is home 24/7 there is a much lower tolerance for pest activity.
As many know, PPE was in short supply within weeks of the shutdown. On March 22nd, while online talking to others about how we are all feeling a bit helpless. Almost like sitting ducks. Tricia Nelson with the Bristol 45 Diner made a statement that stuck with me, “we need to do something”. I logged off from FB and thought for a few minutes. Hmm, we need to help people get the PPE they need. Especially first responders, medical professionals and those in the service industry. All whose lives depend on proper PPE (Personal Protection Equipment). The first name to come to mind was Kenosha Cares. Why? Because when I talk to folks from out of town, one of the impressions they get from us? How caring and friendly Kenoshan’s are. After a quick Google and FB search and found the name Kenosha Cares was available. Within an hour, I was back online, inviting all my local FB friends to join Kenosha Cares. Our mission was simple. To be the Networking Conduit between those who need PPE and those who have it. Simple, right? In two weeks, we could no longer locate N95 Mask. Gloves and sanitizer wipes were thinning out as well. Someone had posted in Kenosha Cares that they could sew mask. My response was to post the CDC link as to how ineffective they were. Just a few days later, the CDC revised their position. By the end of June, our sewers and cutters had produced and distributed over 18 thousand masks! That is right, 18,000! All this would not have been possible without the help of hundreds of fellow Kenoshan’s. The Kenosha Cares admins; Holly Tuttle-Barthuly who coordinated all the sewers and cutters, Andy Berg for making and managing the Kenosha Cares Drop Boxes. Joe Geiger, David Fricke, Tricia Nelson and John Bush, for being awesome admins and behind the scenes help.
Then things opened. It was now summer. People were trying to reclaim their normal, well, new normal. The Corona Virus that causes COVID-19 was still very much a problem, yet we felt things were hopeful. Protest! A part of the American Condition. Late August the national news of riots becomes local. Businesses burned; people died. Dreams destroyed. Kenosha Cares was somewhat dormant when there was this sudden need to Unite, Heal and Recover. In addition to several other local groups. Kenosha Cares members came together and helped clean up, care for and network with other city and state leaders.
Christmas time was a busy time for Kenosha Cares, where we helped connect families in need of essentials and gifts, helping families in need have a better Christmas Holiday Season.
With All that happened in 2020, how does one stay positive? Yes, we are all suffering losses, be it financial, homes, and most of all, the lives of those most dear to us. What do I see? I see folks of all walks of life, economic, political, creed, and race, coming together and not caring from where you come from. Simply how can we all help? This is what I will try to hang on to when recalling 2020.
Happy New Year! May 2021 be the year of rebuilding and healing!