Thankful For Resiliency
Last updated 11/25/2020 at 4:58pm
2020 has been one of the most difficult years this century. Due to COVID-19, more than 250,000 Americans have died, millions have been unemployed for at least a few months and thousands of businesses have closed. In addition, millions of schoolchildren have fallen behind academically and people are suffering from stress, anxiety and depression. Even for those who have escaped the worst of COVID-19, the lack of normal and special activities – meals with friends, sporting events, concerts, festivals, high school graduation, etc. – has put more than a damper on the year.
In Transylvania County, however, we have been more fortunate than most. Our COVID-19 case counts, while rising, are relatively low compared to many other areas of the state. We also have had access to the outdoors – Pisgah National Forest, DuPont State Recreational Forest, Gorges State Park and our own private property – to improve our physical and mental health.
Local leaders and residents, however, have also shown an incredible amount of resiliency, innovation and cooperation in order to mitigate the impacts of COVID-19.
In the spring, the Brevard Music Center decided to cancel its summer festival. Instead of just closing up shop and preparing for next summer, however, CEO and president Mark Weinstein and others at BMC hosted several summer drive-in movies and a drive-in concert with the Steep Canyon Rangers. BMC also offered free COVID-19 tests in coordination with the Pisgah Health Foundation.
Several local manufacturers helped address issues directly related to COVID-19. SylvanSport switched from producing outdoor equipment to protective face shields. Gaia Herbs and Pisgah Labs switched to making hand sanitizers.
When it became apparent the coronavirus could wreak havoc on local businesses, local leaders did not just assume that federal and state money would be enough to help. The Transylvania Business Task Force launched Transylvania Tomorrow, which in three months provided more than $165,000 to 93 businesses in the county. The City of Brevard stepped forward by creating more outdoor seating for restaurants.
On several occasions, local restaurants provided free food. And when schools close down in mid-March, the local school system quickly transitioned to providing breakfast and lunches that could either be picked up at school or delivered.
Transylvania County Schools and Brevard Academy have done a remarkable job in adapting to the circumstances. Over the summer they planned to reopen under Plan B, the hybrid model in which students spent two days in school and three days at home. Now the elementary students are in school four days a week under Plan A, while middle and high school students are still under Plan B. Throughout this current school year, there also have been students learning entirely at home under Plan C. The mere logistics of providing bus service and making lesson plans for students on three different schedules is daunting, not to mention the increased tasks and difficulties involved in teaching under such circumstances.
Brevard College and Blue Ridge Community College also have done a good job of providing in-person learning this fall with flexible scheduling and plans to respond to outbreaks.
The Transylvania County Board of Elections was flexible when it moved the Brevard early voting location to the old Kmart building. This move provided plenty of space in which thousands of people were able to vote in a safe facility. As a result, roughly 49.5 percent of registered voters cast early ballots, making Election Day much safer for voters and poll workers.
Residents also went out of their way just to lift people’s spirits. The owners of Shoal Creek Farm brought horses by to cheer up residents at The Oaks. Car parades drove through College Walk and other retirement and assisted living residences.
These are just a few of the numerous examples of local resilience, innovation and cooperation that have helped us through these difficult times. We are so thankful that we live in a community in which people do not accept negative situations, but accurately assess the situations and do whatever they can to make life better for their friends and community.