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Reaching Out to Our Neighbors


I recently had a chance to visit with a single mom, the mother of two young girls, from another state. Her state is locked down. Her little girls are doing 100% distance-learning. She is working full-time from home. And she is struggling.

The balancing act was something she could do at first. But now, it seems like this horrible situation will never end. I could hear the stress and fatigue in her voice, and I could see the anxiousness on her face. She is fed up, angry, and in desperate need of some relief. My heart hurt listening to her story.

COVID-19 has posed lots of new challenges for all of us. We have taken time to thank the folks on the frontlines of this pandemic, such as healthcare professionals, truck drivers, grocery store employees, law enforcement personnel, teachers, unemployment specialists, and many others. But I want to take a minute to speak directly to the men and women who don’t fall into these categories. I know you may be struggling too. 

This week, I’d like to remind everyone that at our core we are neighbors, and we are all in this together.  Please remember that the woman in front of you at the grocery store or the man at the pharmacy could be going through a lot right now.

I challenge each South Dakotan to reach out to a family member, a friend, a loved one, a neighbor, or even a stranger and ask how they are doing. Take some time out of your day to really listen to their reply. There are a lot of people in this country who are fed up and at their breaking points. Some people may be losing hope.

In South Dakota, we are so fortunate to have had the opportunity to approach this virus differently. To allow businesses to innovate, schools to open up on time, and not resort to a lockdown. But that doesn’t mean people in our state aren’t having a hard time too.

Please help your loved ones focus on the good things we have in our lives, and maybe reflect with gratitude on how fortunate we are to live in the modern world.  A threat like this can break us down – or it can make us truly appreciate the many blessings we have.

If there’s anything we all can rally around at the moment, it’s that we all have a common enemy – this virus.  It’s okay to be scared, worried, or fed up. But at the same time, we can also pour ourselves into our families, our neighbors, our communities. 

My message to you this week is please hang in there. We will get through this.

My hope is that, despite this horrible situation, we all find a way to allow it to make the bonds of community stronger. To remind us of what is important in life.  To remind us of three things: faith, hope and love, and the greatest of these is love.