Blessings in disguise

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By Geoff Hamill

Over the past week, the residents of Washington County have been through some tough times, but in looking back, we also have a lot to be thankful for in our lives. Now, for those who are still without power, you may find this a little harder to understand, but we are definitely fortunate.

At my house, the power was out for about 20 minutes as repairs were made in the neighborhood, and my satellite TV was frozen one day, then thawed out the next. I can’t tell you we’ve had it hard at my house, but I can tell you how blessed we were, and how many of you, even those who lost power and may still be in the dark, are still blessed.

Blessings may be hard to see when we’re snowblind from a winter storm, but as I looked around over the past week, I continued to see one good deed after the other coming from citizens simply looking to help each other.

I saw one man in our neighborhood riding his mower, complete with a snow plow blade attached, and scraping the driveways of houses up and down the street. He didn’t have to do it, but someone had a need, and he wanted to help.

When the power was out and the local shelter opened, adults jumped into action, organizing the shelter and making sure those in need had a place to stay. Those adults, many who are friends of mine, gave of their time. Some took their personal vehicles to transport people from the shelter back to their homes on icy roads because a child needed medicine. It didn’t matter that the medicine was in a home on a rural road in Mackville, he still took a member of the family in need without a second thought. Why? Someone had a need, and he wanted to help.

Seeing adults give of their time is one thing, but children is another. Still, when they could have been at home enjoying snow days and playing video games or just doing nothing, there were several young people who took their time to help those in need at the shelter. They were not told to help, they asked if they could help. I was not alone in my surprise at these young folks. Not that I didn’t think they would help, but that they didn’t need to be asked. They looked at a disaster in their community, they saw a need, and they wanted to help.

We’re not supposed to question authority, and we certainly shouldn’t question God’s plan, but we often do. I’m sure there have been others besides myself who got a little frustrated during this storm and wondered, “Why are we going through this? What good can it do?”

Well, maybe there was some good that came from the storm. We have already seen that this storm brought out the best in many of our citizens, and others, who will never be recognized for their efforts, volunteered anonymously. They took their own chainsaws out and cut a clear path along rural roads, or they shoveled somebody’s driveway or sidewalk while the person was away at a shelter.

This storm also got the attention of our local leaders, who knew that an emergency could arise at any time, but still, they were not completely prepared. Until this storm hit, we didn’t have an actual Red Cross chapter in our own county. We have benefited from the Red Cross chapters in other counties, but we only had our own little division of another county’s chapter. Now, however, there has been discussion about forming a local chapter and making sure we are even better prepared the next time an emergency hits, and that’s a good thing. We need to be ready and trained to react at any time, and the Red Cross is a wonderful organization for our local leaders to be associated with in a time of crisis.

When the time comes, and announcements are made about Red Cross meetings, I know there will be plenty of people who will step forward and get the training needed to be an even better volunteer in the future, and we all should. A community is made up of all of its residents, not just its elected leaders, but those who step forward and become leaders when needed.

When the next disaster hits Washington County, I hope you will see that need, and if you can, I hope you will want to help, too.