To the Editor:
The Athens Community Relations Commission has hosted conversations with many people on a variety of topics. We have talked about how to make our community a better and more welcoming place. We come away from these events impressed by the thoughtfulness and caring that shows throughout the Athens area.
Now we face a crisis, with the prospect of widespread illness or worse. The closing of the university, the schools and businesses have impacted us all. Unemployment and hunger have grown dramatically. Though we may be geographically isolated, it is clear we are part of the great human global community.
In response, we have seen many reach out and stand up for their neighbors and for the most vulnerable. Many have risen to the occasion as health-care providers, clerks, workers, teachers, parents and more, keeping us safe while delivering vital goods and services. We so appreciate these heroic efforts and the everyday kindness that seems more common now.
We do want to acknowledge how hard this is for many people. Some of the struggles we already deal with are magnified by the pandemic. For those without reliable Internet service, it is all the more difficult to connect with loved ones. For those without good health care, getting sick is now especially dangerous and terrifying.
Many international students and community members have been cut off from their families. Asian communities have been targeted with increased hate speech and violence. African Americans have suffered disproportionately with this virus. People living in poverty in Athens County have been greatly impacted, often faced with an impossible choice between working to survive or staying home to stay safe. Older citizens are certainly more vulnerable now.
We wish we were able to gather together in person to talk about all these things. We would like to share our stories and hear yours.
How are you doing?
What has been hardest for you?
What gives you hope and helps you get through?
How is it going reaching out to others to make sure they are safe and connected?
What are you learning about what is most important to you?
What parts of this new way of life do you want to hang onto??
Feel free to join the discussion at: www.facebook.com/athens.community.relations.commission/
Athens Community Relations Commission
Marlene De La Cruz-Guzman