We thought Covid-19 was the worst thing we would deal with in 2020. Then we woke up on Memorial Day not knowing what would transpire. We were celebrating. We may have had the day off from work. We were remembering Veterans who made the ultimate sacrifice. We were remembering loved ones lost who we dearly miss. We certainly were not expecting anything out of the ordinary. Then came the difference in that day. We have now lived 45 days since George Floyd lost his life to the unfathomable tragedy of Memorial Day. Much has changed for us as individuals, as families, as races and as Open Hands Midway. Dare I say our eyes have been opened? Dare I say as a white person I have a lot to learn? Dare I say justice for all is my hope? I do not know and I am sure you do not know either. Each day seems to bring something new to hear about or deal with. Heartbreak is the word that captured me that Monday in May. I watched the now known video but, to this day, not in its entirety. I could not. I recall sitting watching the officer pin George Floyd to the ground and my heart beat faster. I recall a lump in my throat. I recall getting up and walking away from the television. What I did next is what many of us have done over the years, I left, I walked away. Perhaps I didn’t want to face the reality of what society had become. Perhaps I did not want to admit I was more of the cause than the solution. Perhaps I did not want to admit my ‘whiteness’ and what that has afforded. As you read this, my hope is you are able to discern where you stand 45 days after the world has changed so much. While you may not agree with me, Black lives do matter. We can no longer sit back and say ‘this is someone else’s problem’. It is time to take a stand and be the voice of change, even if we feel like doing so would take us out of our comfort zone. Be the change YOU want to see in the world. Open Hands Midway has four core values which are:
Everyone is welcome
Love changes people
Everyone has gifts to share
All things are possible
I do not think it is a coincidence that the first one we list is 'Everyone is welcome'. Over my 11 years of being associated with Open Hands Midway, 5 1/2 years as Executive Director, we have made it perfectly clear that everyone who comes through our doors is welcome here. We greet them with a smile and a kind word as they arrive, we thank them for coming, and we invite them to come back. This is shared with everyone regardless of the color of their skin or their ethnicity. This is NOT a place of disrespect, this is a place of respect. So much has changed at Open Hands Midway since March 23. Closing our meal program and food shelf was difficult. Determining how to re-open was difficult. Now we have opened and it is still difficult as we daily deal with how we will implement safe serving and distribution practices of food for staff, volunteers and guests alike. Since 2009 we have been here, we are here and we will be here with doors open, hearts open and hands ready to serve meals. Today, as always, the focus of Open Hands Midway is providing the basic life necessity of food. In a world which seems to have been shifted on it's axis since that sad day in May, we need to do whatever we can to not shift back to the way it was but to shift into a new sphere and begin healing. I honestly do not know how that happens but I am more willing to try than I have ever been before. My prayer is that everyone associated with Open Hands Midway is willing to try too, just sayin'...