Kenosha: A good place to be

Some moments call for us to be our best selves, and this is certainly one of those moments. Fortunately, in Kenosha, we already know how to work together as a community.

Our city has weathered adversity before. We have learned to accept what we could not change. And we have learned to get to work on shaping the future. We only need to look at the years, difficult as they were, following the closure of the lakeside auto plant. This wonderful community understands what it means to pull together in the face of trouble and challenge — and what it means to act with purpose.

It is not like this everywhere. I have lived in different places, have served as “deputy mayor” of a small village in Tennessee, and have spent time as a member of different residential colleges, which are their own small communities of thousands of people. Some communities tend to pull together, and others tend to fall apart.

Look across our community and we can see how we are approaching adversity. At Carthage, Gateway, and UW-Parkside, faculties are rising to the challenge of remote instruction on short notice as staff support their colleagues and students during an uncertain time. Prospective students and families looking for a college can be confident in the responsiveness of our local higher education institutions.

Our local restaurants, similarly, have worked quickly to launch efficient curbside services. Froedtert South rolled out a drive-through COVID-19 testing station within days. And Grace Welcome Center is ramping up the number of lunches it makes, thanks to a growing cadre of volunteers.

It’s not just willingness to act, though, that makes community action possible. It’s the strength of our relationships as neighbors and citizens, so that we have built necessary trust. It’s the strength of our collective education, so that together we understand our challenges and find smart solutions. And it’s the strength of our common experience, in having met challenges before, so that we proceed with a sense of confidence in each other.

I live on Carthage’s campus, and on my walks down Campus Drive, I have seen how our community has pulled together — to take care of families as they have been driving in to retrieve their students’ belongings, to take care of international students who have difficulty returning home, and to take care of fellow faculty and staff who are seeking both to stay safe and to serve our community.

I know that that same care is evident across Kenosha. We know that, even as we practice social distancing to flatten the curve of the virus’s spread, we must continue to feed our children, support our medical staff, and deliver our essential services. I am confident that as we are all called on to do more, we will get it done.

On our part, the Nursing Department at Carthage has donated medical equipment to local health care facilities. Gateway has done the same. In addition, I have contacted local hospitals to offer our residence halls and other areas for use if medical facilities become overwhelmed. I know that all of the community leaders will find ways to assist.

I know, finally, that a community fabric is what holds Carthage together, and Kenosha too. We must keep that fabric strong, or we will be weaker as a community. In my communications to Carthaginians far and wide, I encourage staying as connected as we possibly can, by phone, by social media, by virtual happy hour. I encourage Kenoshans to do the same, with families and friends, with colleagues, with neighbors, for connectedness is vital to our strength in weathering adversity.

We are fortunate to live in Kenosha. We know one another. We are pragmatic. We get things done. I know we will weather this storm as well as anywhere — and we will do so because we weather it together.

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