by Sarah Squires, editor-in-chief, Winona Post
It’s hard to believe that in just a matter of weeks, our world has been turned on its head. For some of us — maybe we live alone and don’t go out much to begin with — little is different in our day-to-day lives. For others, with the transformation of spring over the last few weeks, nearly every aspect of our lives has been transformed. Some people with children are juggling work and other responsibilites with navigating a way to help their kids connect with school activites from home, not to mention just keeping them occupied. For many others, their employment — or lack thereof — has become a significant source of stress.
I have a pretty wild imagination, and I try to empathize with people when I can. The last few weeks have me recalling my former lives in other sectors of work — I spent almost a decade as a caregiver and nursing assistant, mostly working in nursing homes in West Central Minnesota. They called me “the girl with the warm hands” when they couldn’t remember my name, and that’s because early on I learned how much just holding a hand for a moment can mean to a person for whom you care.
I have a tough time imagining how difficult it must be right now to work in a health care or long-term care facility. COVID-19 has truly changed both the importance and the danger of these jobs, and I think it has also opened a lot of our eyes to the type of dedication and love that is so critical a part of the recipe for a successful team of caregivers. From top to bottom, I’m so impressed with the people who are doing some of the most important work in our communities right now, and my heart is heavy with the prayers that go out to them as well.
We at the Winona Post are considered “essential employees,” because during a time like this, local news is of paramount importance to our daily lives. We take this job very seriously, but I have also spent a lot of time pondering how many people and stories and sacrifices surround our new definition of “essential” today. At the Post, I’m lucky that I can do my job without coming into close contact with anyone — we’re all at least six feet apart, we’re using our phones and email, and we are not having to volumous numbers of the community through direct contact. I think so often of the other “essential” workers who must stand closer, who staff the check-out counters at our grocery stores and pharmacies, who stock the shelves, who check us into the doctor’s office and the kind volunteers who are still performing essential work — delivering meals to seniors, for example. They are heroes right now, too, and I know I am not alone in sending my love and appreciation and earnest prayers to them as they help us all through this time.
Mister Rogers told children this years ago: “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’” It’s such a lovely sentiment, and boy does it ring true today. As I watch our community come together (not physically, but virtually every other way possible), I see so many helpers, so many spending every waking moment imaginging what they might be able to do for those less fortunate. It’s one of the most beautiful things I’ve witnessed, and one of the things that we’re being certain to share with you on our pages as we navigate these difficult times. We don’t have all the answers, and things are changing day to day, but we at the Post will do our very best to keep you updated with the information that you need to know, and to make sure you know about all the helpers — whether you need some help right now, or your heart just needs to hear about them.
For the time being, we’ve combined our paper into one, big Wednesday edition to help us be nimble as we adapt to these changing times, but make sure, if you’re able, to check us out online throughout the week. Our staff is working hard to bring you up-to-the-minute news at winonapost.com, so you always have news you can trust at your fingertips.
Stay safe, friends!