By Mary Fuller, United Way
Last September, I wrote about being resilient in the face of the negative impacts of the pandemic. Who knew we would be feeling the impacts of another surge of infections a year later? As the lingering effects of the pandemic continue, it often feels like we are not making progress in our efforts to control and eradicate COVID. Therefore, it is important again to revisit some of the messages that will help us remain resilient and keep us on a path to recovery as individuals and a community – giving us the strength to see that path to recovery.
The U.S. Census Bureau defines community resilience as “the capacity of individuals and households to absorb, endure, and recover from the health, social and economic impacts of a disaster,” such as a pandemic. Community resilience focuses on the ability of a community to adapt and use available resources to recover from adverse experiences. One of the things that helps make an individual resilient also helps keep a community resilient, and that is having healthy and stable relationships, feeling connected and being part of a larger group. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services identifies social connectedness as one of the core components for community resilience. This connectedness includes social cohesion with social supports, a sense of community, trust, and positive civic participation.
Traditionally, the United States has proven to resilient in the face of adversity and disastrous situations. There are examples on the national level during threats to our national security through terrorist attacks or in communities who have been devastated by mass shootings, hurricanes, fires or floods. During World War II, think about all the women who answered the call to work in the defense industries while men were fighting on the front lines. These efforts helped to end the war and open the door for many women to have the option of working outside of the home beyond the war. After years of Polio disabling many people across the country and many scientists’ efforts to find a cure or effective treatment, American virologist Dr. Jonas Salk and his associates developed an effective Polio vaccine. After a nationwide vaccination campaign, the incidence of Polio in the U.S. fell 85-90% by 1957 (Smithsonian). In these situations, the nation and communities came together used it resources to problem solve, recover and continue to thrive during and beyond the crisis.
One thing we can all agree on is that we are going through another true adversity, lasting not just months but years. It has affected our physical, mental and economic health as individuals and a nation. So how do we use the examples of how we have gotten through tough times in the past to help us get through this time? We review our history to see how we can build on our strengths and not ruminate on the failures of the past. We focus on our shared values, our connectedness. We prioritize the common good and we decrease conflict among us. We have been through crises that have lasted years in the past and we came out the other side as a better community and nation. It is important to remember that we can come together to do it again. Someday soon, we will be beyond COVID and what we do today will impact how we thrive in the future.
Mary Fuller is United Way’s Bryan County Area Director and long-time resident of Bryan County. She can be contacted at email@example.com.