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  • Stephen D'Agostino

Let’s Resolve to Stay Strong Regarding the Pandemic

Are you a New Year's resolution type? I am not, and the reason for that is that seemingly every day, I find myself resolving to do something different or try something new. For me, maybe they are new day’s resolutions.

In December, for example, I vowed to make a special breakfast every Sunday of the month. Most of what I made were pastries or pastry-based. Bill and I started those Sundays with blueberry buttermilk muffins, a tasty egg dish called a country feta pie, cardamom cinnamon knots from Norway, and a strata. I stretched my resolution to January by making a panettone.

All of that baking got in the way of a different new day’s resolution, which is always to eat better—and by better, I don’t mean more. With December behind us, I have resolved to make fewer special breakfasts.

I have also resolved to keep my desk neater. I divide the world into two types of people: neat people and messy people. In my house, we have both. Bill is neat. I am not. However, I realize that I work better when there is a bit of chaos on my desk. So maybe my resolution should be to keep my desk a little neater.

I should probably resolve to do more things to sharpen my memory, as exhibited by last week’s column. If you read it, you know that I harkened back to several of my stories to recount things that happened in Reading in 2020. Not surprisingly, a lot of the stories I focused on were pandemic related. Some stories, like the one about the dedication of Puddledock Park and the installation of Reading town signs, chronicled things that would have happened if 2020 was a normal year. Which it certainly was not.

After I sent the column to the paper, I worked on posting it to my blog. While perusing photos to add to the post, I realized I forgot one inspired and inspiring event and three local heroes.

Riders, both kids and adults, before the Kids Bike Ride for Change event on July 5

On Sunday, July 5, Vanessa Maxham organized an event she called Kids Bike Ride for Change. Vanessa noted that she and her family wanted to help during the Black Lives Matter movement. She talked with her two young children, Kelton and Mari, about race and injustices, but they wanted to do more. Vanessa thought since her kids love to bike, why not build an event around that?

As Vanessa noted at the time, “We believe that by doing something positive and active with children, we can continue the anti-racism conversation and help to bring about change.”

About 20 folks showed up, rode the 8.46-mile course, and raised over $1700 for Conscious Kids, an organization dedicated to equity and promoting positive racial identity development in youth.

Whether you make New Year’s resolutions or not, I hope we can all keep up our resolve in dealing with the pandemic.

This year will be different than last year. I look forward to a time when everyone is vaccinated, and the number of COVID-19 cases in the state and the nation goes to zero—or close to it. Then we can refocus our energies on building community instead of managing a pandemic.

Of course, we will carry forward the lessons we learned—like being vigilant about handwashing and reducing habits that spread germs. Regardless of COVID-19, continuing to practice what we’ve learned could lead to fewer colds and cases of flu. Let's also continue to care for the well-being of our neighbors, and let’s hold on to our understanding of the different physical and economic challenges we all face.

I will wrap up by giving a final tally of the Share the Warmth Campaign, run by the Ottauquechee Health Foundation, and by making a request. Though I don’t know the exact number of people who donated their time to knit or crochet or sew mittens, hats, and scarves, I can tell you that OHF collected over 300 items, including four hats and a scarf from me, and 25 or so items from other Reading residents. OHF donated 80 items to the Reading-West Windsor Food Shelf for folks of all ages. The foundation also provided these items to other organizations around Woodstock.

Here’s the request. We are down to the wire on submitting petitions for Town Meeting. OHF is circulating one to get an item on the warning. That item is to ask if Reading will allocate $1,000 to OHF. The money supports people who need help with medical bills and other health-related expenses.

In 2020, OHF provided 11 grants to Reading residents, totaling over $6,000. Financially speaking, that sounds like a good return on investment. Putting a value on helping those in need, though, is impossible. It is priceless. If you haven’t signed the petition yet, or if you are not sure you signed it, please do so. It is at the Reading Greenhouse. If you can’t make it there and want to sign it, let me know, I will bring it by for a socially distanced signature.

That’s the news from Reading. See you next week.

This column originally appeared in The Vermont Standard on January 7, 2021.

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