Kearsley: Crisis brings challenges, but also opportunities
The Sherwood Chamber of Commerce has not been immune to the impact of the COVID-19 crisis. And like most families, mine has had to make adjustments and sacrifices to "Stay Home. Save Lives."
Finding the silver lining in the middle of this pandemic that has hamstrung our lives and brought so many of our activities to a screeching halt is not easy. But with sunny skies and chirping birds acting as my inspiration, I've discovered a few. Perhaps you can relate.
Time for adjustment. The crisis is forcing the Chamber out of its comfort zone and is requiring us to sharpen our pencil to make us more efficient.
Two of the biggest adjustments we've made are the rescheduling of Les Schwab Cruisin' Sherwood to Sept. 12 and moving the Vietnam trip from November to March 4-13, 2021.
Though rescheduling Cruisin' was not easy and initially felt like a setback, we're really excited about how the new date can help us make this 30th anniversary year one for the ages, as nearly all of our partners have been supportive and encouraging during this transition.
Time for re-evaluation. I've heard many express how this downtime is a reminder of how enjoyable a simpler life can be. There are others who have longed for a simpler life and now when it's forced upon them, they realize how much they enjoy being busy and active. Wherever you fall on this spectrum, now is a great time to make changes so life is more meaningful and enjoyable.
Time for appreciation. In the pre-COVID-19 world, it was easy to get caught up in the rush of life and take for granted the little things.
When I run, I often lose myself in a book on tape when, before I know it, I'm done, which is fantastic. The whole point of listening is to distract me from my pain and fatigue.
But with the slowdown, I'm taking more walks and discovering a world that I generally ignore. Birds singing, blossoms blooming and the vividness of freshly cut green grass.
And then there are the more important blessings I take for granted — my family, a functioning economy, a steady paycheck, the freedom to travel, visits with friends. I'm afraid my list is long.
Time for focus. In the few short weeks since Gov. Kate Brown issued the "Stay Home. Save Lives" directive, our activities at the Chamber have drastically changed. We're laser-focused on providing value, which right now comes largely in the form of information. We're constantly seeking out new ideas and tools to share. I'm also advocating for more resources from our city, state, and national leaders that will allow our businesses to survive the crisis.
Time to work together. The biggest silver lining that I have come to appreciate is the power of collaboration and service. When the going got tough, Sherwood got going. Businesses are promoting each other. Neighbors are running errands for those who are most vulnerable. Teachers are going the extra mile to stay connected to their students. And even kids are getting into the act with sidewalk art, leaving encouraging messages on rocks, and learning how to make face masks.
These gestures may or may not make a difference in saving a business or helping a family make their next mortgage payment. But the message comes in loud and clear — I've got your back, and I trust that you've got mine. And that alone gives us the will to power through the hard times and provide us important momentum once the social distancing precautions start to lift.
Until then, stay healthy and stay safe.
Corey Kearsley is chief executive officer of the Sherwood Chamber of Commerce.
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