Blair Garrett

Over the past year, there has been a major divide in this country.

People struggle to find common ground politically, and businesses and individuals have never experienced this much uncertainty in their entire lives.

The distancing and perpetual chaos of the pandemic have created more space between communities than ever before. Small towns like the ones nestled in Catoctin Mountain are supposed to be tight-knit. People are supposed to be able to lean on one another in times of need, and that time is now. One of the charms of living away from major cities is that neighbor-to-neighbor connection you develop with people you see every week. That’s the kind of charm a town like Emmitsburg, Thurmont, or Sabillasville has to offer. 

Historically, that’s how these small mountain towns have been. However, the past 12 months have shifted that neighborly mentality to a much more careful, reclusive state of mind. Public health comes first, but the lack of events, social gatherings, and general weekday happenings has left a lot of social time unfulfilled. Fear not, though, as numbers of new COVID cases continue to trend downward, things may return to normal sooner than later.

There are thousands of ways to connect and rebuild those once-thriving relationships—you just have to know where to start.

There are some under-the-radar organizations that anonymously donate each year to aid locals with things like Christmas, housing, and food. Communities thrive on the backs of volunteers, and these organizations are composed of like-minded people who are looking to support others, particularly in times of great need. Asking friends, family, fire and police departments, or others online is a great way to get your foot in the door to find out where to begin.

Awareness of a problem is the first step to addressing that issue, and many people have been silently struggling over the last 12 months due to a variety of factors. Keep your eyes and ears open to lend a helping hand whenever available. Whether it’s identifying someone through social media having a hard time, or just asking the faces you see every day how they’re getting along makes a world of difference.

If it’s donating clothing or volunteer work at your local food bank, there are a variety of great ways to give back to the community you live in.

Through the capacity limits and safety protocols, restaurants across the country have had to make tremendous adjustments to their standard operations. That means online orders and curbside takeout have become more and more a thing of the present, as in-house dining has been restricted for some time now.

Investing in your local restaurants recycles nearly 66 percent of the revenue spent back into the community, so consistently supporting your hometown family businesses helps keep the money spent locally. That doesn’t mean buying and trading public stocks for your favorite mom-and-pop shop, it means investing your time and attention to small local businesses instead of the big-time international chains that normally rule the industries.

Businesses owned by people who grew up here or have raised their families here have a much higher tendency to reinvest that money to support their schools, parks, or other areas of public interest, and that relationship is an important one to maintain a healthy and thriving community in these uncertain times.

The current state of our communities may be temporarily strained, but keeping your door open to a neighbor in need is the simplest remedy to this social distance mindset 2020 has led us to.

The pandemic has taken a lot away from us these last 12 months, but time has shown us that people strengthen from adversity, and communities will come back stronger from this setback.

This time is no different, and with time, things will return to normal sooner rather than later.

Share →