Coming Together


Steve Freese
President and CEO

In March of this year, as the pandemic launched itself into our world, virtually shutting down life as we knew it, my 94-year-old mother was in a nursing home recovering from a broken hip. As with many long-term care facilities, COVID-19 reared its very ugly head. Many residents in her facility, including my mother, were infected. Tragically, some of them died. She survived. It’s one of many things that I am profoundly thankful for as we look forward to the Thanksgiving holiday.

To say 2020 has been a difficult year is an understatement. The disappointment, frustration, and anxiety of life during a pandemic was compounded by racially charged unrest, and it all stewed in a steaming pot of toxic politics during a particularly tumultuous presidential election year.

As I write this, it’s unclear if the election will be finalized by the time this magazine hits your mailbox. Even if election day has passed, there may be delays in tallying votes, and of course, potential legal challenges. Regardless of who wins, we do know that roughly half of the state and the nation will celebrate, and the other half will be disappointed.

No matter which side of that aisle you are on, now is the time for our communities, our state, and our country to come together and start healing the wounds that have been festering all year long. How do we do that? A good place to start is with our own families as we kick off the holiday season. COVID-19 made it practically impossible to celebrate Easter together like we normally would, and we are not out of the woods yet, but we have learned a lot since then.

For our family, we celebrate Thanksgiving at our family farm, where we feast on wild turkey, thanks to my son. Dinner is followed by card games, a walk in the pasture, and a lot of reminiscing of days gone by. This year, we are adjusting our traditions and planning to have dinner out in the pasture or the machine shed, so we can socially distance to keep everyone safe. The most important thing is knowing that for all we missed out on this year, we still have so much to be thankful for.

As hard as it has been for me to not be able to see my mother in person and give her a hug, I am so very grateful that I can still talk to her and see her face every day via Skype. 2020 has taught us to focus not on what we missed, or what we lost, but on what we have. The pandemic, for all of its ill-effects, has showed us how to slow down, enjoy the moments, and appreciate what is most important.

Hopefully, as a country, we can all do the same, and heal this divide. Let’s look forward to all that awaits us. Let’s work together and focus on what unites us, instead of what divides us. Together, our communities can build back stronger and more unified. If my 94-year-old mother can get through the fires of 2020, and come out strong, so can we.