Pat Tally

Pat Tally

I feel inadequate to the task of writing an end-of-the-year column. We innocently walked into 2020 and got smacked in the face by masks, daily death counts and our own impotence in the face of a global pandemic. No one was spared from its impact. We changed our shopping patterns, our educational experiences, and our social activities.

We all had significant events that were canceled or ones we could not attend.

We all had to make decisions about public health issues very unfamiliar to us.

These decisions often put us in direct conflict with each other, especially since this year included electing a new President.

With so much happening every day, we arguably lost track of all the small but important sacrifices happening around us.

I want to share my random thoughts about the 2020 achievements of local residents.

Let’s start with our hometown healthcare workers. What a fearful time yet inspiring time to work in health care. Dr. John McNeil and many other doctors had to step into new roles and find ways to keep their practices afloat while learning all they could about COVID-9. I thank you for your dedication.

I personally have had to consume a lot more healthcare than I expected this year, and I am so grateful for all the front-line personnel in hospitals, clinics, out-patient therapies, and nursing homes.

I have read that, in some communities, people have adopted a nursing unit to bolster their spirits with food or other little gifts. Great idea. Nursing home and hospice staffs in our community, as elsewhere, have a particularly difficult task in caring for elderly patients who cannot have family visits. It is a heart wrenching situation when this happens and families, like mine, have relied heavily on nursing home caregivers and our hospice nurse and social worker. These people hold our hearts in their hands when they care for our loved ones and they deserve more recognition than they get.

Are you getting into the swing of this? How about praising our intrepid educators and our students and our parents-turned-teachers? A big 2020 wrecking ball smashed into the routine experience of just going to school and doing homework. Teachers, students, and parents had to scramble to figure out uncomfortable new systems and a learning curve that went far beyond their comfort level. I congratulate everyone who had to teach and learn this past year, from daycare facilities to college campuses. Give yourselves a pat on the back.

Oh, wait, I almost forgot that our schools became food distribution centers, handing out thousands of meals in very trying conditions. That monumental achievement was not what those workers signed up for at the beginning of 2020.

While on the subject of food assistance, a big shout out to Christ’s Kitchen, VCAM, the Food Bank, and other safety net organizations that continue to provide meals and food distribution in the face of the increasing demands from so many families who find themselves in difficult situations through no fault of their own. Thank you to all who donate and to all who distribute. The Victoria Strong spirit was repeatedly demonstrated.

One of the things I love most about Victoria is our strong network of non-profits related to the visual and performance arts. We have a symphony, a ballet company, a theater, a dozen museums of various kinds, a zoo, and strong historical preservation organizations. The dilemma is that their existence relies on the public coming to events that generate income. The limits on seating and viewing has led to some very imaginative ways to keep audiences participating. There has been live streaming of performances, events with limited seating, a move to outdoor events, and creative reimagination of events to fit the times, such as the reverse Christmas parade.

The Victoria Ballet Theatre was able to continue their tradition by production of “A Pandemic Nutcracker” for limited seating audience. You can catch that performance on YouTube throughout the season.

Check out the websites for other local organizations to see what they are up to during this season of adjustments and remember donations are always welcome.

So many organizations, businesses, and individuals have quietly persisted in the face of the challenges this year: our churches, our restaurants, the service techs who risk coming into our homes for repairs, the clerks who have to enforce rules in the face of opposition, and many many more. They can’t always see we are smiling behind our masks so I challenge you to make your own list and take a minute to say thank you or to write a brief note of recognition or to make a donation.

Join me as I resolve to embrace 2021 as a year of community growth. A year that will build on all the achievements mentioned above and many more that we have yet to imagine. Happy New Year, Victoria.

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Pat Tally is chairwoman of the Victoria County Democratic Party. Before retiring to Victoria, she was the director of a clinical social work department in a large Dallas hospital system for 22 years. She may be emailed at pattally@outlook.com.

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