Giving Thanks in Hard Times


Right now, there is hardly a soul in the nation that is not under an increased amount of stress. Some of us certainly have more and some less, but we are all subject to the things going on in the world around us.

We all know there is the pandemic. We have seen racial injustice reach a flashpoint, and the fire still burns. There's a contentious election. There's disruption at work, our kid's schools, and it makes its way into our homes. I know much is eating away at my soul, and it's probably also eating away at yours.

Frankly, it's a miracle that anyone even wants to get out of bed in the morning. It's a challenge, but somehow we rise each day and do what we can to provide for ourselves and our loved ones. It's tiring.

In the end, even with all the external pressure squeezing us like a vice, each day, we still have a choice to make. We can try to ignore those external realities, withdraw, or we can think real hard about how to do things differently, do things better, and begin taking the first steps to a future that will undoubtedly look different.

If there is one word, one cliché, that I will remember when I think back on 2020, it will be the word "pivot."

That's about all we've been doing at Healthy Homes this year, trying each day to figure out how, despite all the external challenges, we can keep kids safe, keep kids from hurting. It seems like all we do is change-up the way we do things. 

Nothing is constant. It's disorienting.

When I look back on 2020, my fondest memory will certainly be the work that one of our newest staff members did in May of this year at the height of the pandemic.

With home visiting out of the picture, Lisa McKinney and the rest of our team realized that parents would be vital in keeping kids safe. Whereas we used to focus on changing the house and the environment, Lisa recognized that now is the time to invest in people. Not being able to spend energy on assessing homes and making fixes in person, Lisa systematically figured out how to build parent knowledge about how to keep kids with asthma safe. She didn't stop there; she investigated how to move that knowledge into action by remotely teaching skills that result in safer environments for kids.

Our Breathe Easier asthma program now looks newer, fresher, more relevant, and more empowering. Even though home visits are out of the question for safety reasons, it is a great time to invest in relationships. And that is just what Lisa has done.

2020 will be the year of the pivot. Looking back, I will always remember how Lisa, as a new staff member, had the guts and courage to get up every day and work on solutions that support parents and keep kids safe. Tiring work amid a pandemic, to be sure, but Grand Rapids is better because of her commitment to making things right.