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United We Stand: Together, all is possible

NIAGARA, Wis. — I have been doing a lot of thinking lately about the word “unity.” The simple definition of the word is “joined as a whole.” Synonyms include such words as unification, integration, amalgamation, and coalition. I remember when I was in grade school, our teacher explained that our country was a collection of individual states, but that our Constitution joined us as the United States of America. She went on to explain that as long as we stayed together, we would remain strong. She compared us to a box of matchsticks; when all of the matchsticks were gathered together into one bunch, the group was impossible to break apart. And then she took one match away from the group and snapped it easily. We all understood.

Strength in numbers is not a new concept. It has been around since the age of the caveman when living in groups was the only way to survive harsh surroundings and natural predators. When our forefathers came to these shores — all immigrants from other countries — they settled in enclaves of people who spoke the same language and shared the same customs so they could better help each other acclimate to this new world. Wagon trains set out together in groups to settle the vast, unknown regions to our west. That trip was much safer when traveling in groups as wagons circled to protect each other against the harshness of the Great Plains and helped each other over the mountain ranges on their march to the Pacific coast.

Many hands make light work is an adage I grew up with, as did many of you. When people come together to cooperatively work with each other — from throughout the community, within the workplace, or as a family — end results happen both more quickly and more successfully. And, time spent working with a group to accomplish the work that has to be done is generally more fulfilling and fun than when the same job is tackled alone. My husband recalls a time when he was helping his dad do a plumbing job in the basement — never a fun task. His dad was having a really hard time loosening the pipe. My husband reached over and grabbed his dad’s wrists; when they both pulled together, the pipe came loose. He also used to help his dad saw down trees. Together, they each took an end of the cross cut saw and set a rhythm; within minutes the tree was down — sawed even with the ground, no stump remaining.

Our development as a nation — as these United States of America — did not happen in a vacuum. There have certainly been periods of isolationism throughout our history. But it was when we joined with other nations to defeat a common foe that success ruled the day. Whether joining our allies in defeating Hitler, in preventing other world wars through NATO, or saving our planet through the Paris Climate Accord, life on this earth improves for all people when we come together as one world.

There is added strength when the group that comes together to do the work is diverse. Today, especially, diversity has taken on a less than favorable connotation. We seem to fear people who are different than we are — at the very least, we have become uncomfortable with the characteristic of our nation that gives us such an advantage over other countries. When there is diversity, there is an array of backgrounds that brings together a variety of skills, a broader knowledge base and the likelihood that the end result will be a better solution to the task at hand. If you doubt this, imagine trying to build a house with only electricians on site.

When we exclude people of different backgrounds in favor of people just like us, we limit our problem solving. Our group will most likely have the same background rooted in the same experiences, a similar educational level, the same strengths and the same weaknesses — leading to a narrower vision and armed with a more limited skill set with which to solve the problem at hand.

Right now, our nation is faced with a daunting set of problems: a global pandemic; a struggling economy as a result of that pandemic; children who cannot return to school; young college graduates who cannot begin their careers; systemic racial inequality — a scar on our nation for hundreds of years, now an open wound once again; and climate change that threatens the very existence of our planet for generations to come. Any one of these issues would be a challenge, but experienced simultaneously, our world is currently a pretty daunting and overwhelming place.

Our nation cannot bury its head in the sand and waste time bickering. Nor can we afford to exclude anyone who is willing and able to help. All educational backgrounds, all skill sets, all ideas are needed. Now more than ever, we need to pull together as one nation again. There is no time to waste and no room for bigotry and pettiness and selfishness. Now is the time when we need to live up to the promise that is our United States of America — opening our arms to all, helping each other through this troubling time to a brighter future — so we can become our best selves.

Like me, you are probably shaking your head, wondering what in the world can one person do to possibly make even the slightest improvement. For starters, I do not have a science and technology background, but I can listen to those who do and follow their recommendations. I can trust and believe that those educated in science, technology and medicine know what is best. I will cooperate by wearing a face mask, keeping my distance, and washing my hands. These are simple acts that do not limit my liberties but ensure my healthy future and the future of those around me.

I can believe what science tells me about climate change. I am not a meteorologist, but I can sure tell our climate is changing. Reports of warming oceans, a melting ice cap in Greenland, worsening hurricanes decimating our coasts, and a fire season in California that is two months longer than the historical average — these are not normal, cyclical anomalies. They are the concrete evidence that our planet needs our help. Remember that old television commercial for the margarine that tasted like butter? Mother Nature came on the TV screen and said, “It’s not nice to fool Mother Nature,” and the thunder clapped and a lightning bolt flashed across the screen. These days, Mother Nature is reminding us of that fact in very definite and dangerous ways.

Finally, I can open my mind and my heart and develop a more-inclusive attitude toward all those people who are different than I am. I can strive to understand their challenges. I can learn to appreciate their talents and believe that their differences give them insights and skills that I do not possess. I can invite them into my world.

And, one last very important responsibility … I can vote! I cannot and will not let anyone mess with my right to cast my vote in this election. We are all guaranteed that precious right to participate in our government — our Constitution gives all of us that right. Many of us had to fight long and hard for it. So, let’s respect their struggle and get to the polls or deliver our ballots well in advance of election night.

Yes, we are traveling through a dark and troubling time in our nation’s history. But we need to remember that this is America … land of the free and home of the brave. We can once again come together, pull together, work together to make this precious land all that it can be… for everyone.

——

NURSING HOMES

The usual senior living activity calendars and senior center menus will not be published this week in an effort to avoid confusion. Due to the coronavirus and the vulnerability of the elderly population, daily life in the senior living facilities and senior centers has changed dramatically.

All living facilities have closed their doors to public visitation, and the activity calendars have been modified to allow for one-to-one room visits only and individualized activities to keep residents engaged and active as much as possible while remaining within the health and safety guidelines provided by state health experts.

Group games are being substituted with individualized activities residents can do in their respective rooms. Staff are providing supplies as well as “overhead announcement bingo and trivia” games and “hallway games” that can be played in individual rooms or by sitting within individual room doorways.

YouTube and DVDs are being utilized to provide religious services. A big dose of gratitude and appreciation goes out to all senior care staff for their creativity, caring and perseverance through a difficult situation.

All senior centers have also been closed to any center-based activity. Until they re-open, no information is being published that talks about activities typically available at these centers. While some have reopened with limited seating, meals do continue to be delivered.

Some centers also are preparing meals to be picked up. Menus are printed below for those centers who are either preparing takeout or providing home delivered meals. Questions can be directed to the individual centers at the numbers all listed below.

SENIOR CENTERS

Alpha-Mastodon Center

906-875-3315

Amasa Center

906-822-7284

The Amasa Center is a curbside pick-up-only kitchen for now. Call ahead for Tuesdays through Thursdays. Menu for the week —

Tuesday: Chop suey, rice, oriental vegetables and lettuce salad.

Wednesday: Barbecue pork with a bun, baked beans and cucumber salad.

Thursday: Pasties, mixed vegetables and coleslaw.

Breen Center

906-774-5110

Now open with limited seating from noon to 1 p.m. Monday through Thursday: Menu for the week —

Monday: Baked salmon, fried potatoes and carrots.

Tuesday: Barbecue pork sandwich, potato wedges and baked beans.

Wednesday: Spaghetti, meat sauce, green beans and garlic bread.

Thursday: Meatloaf, mashed potatoes and corn.

Crystal Falls Center

Head cook: Lucy Korhonen

906-875-6709

Crystal Lake Center

Iron Mountain

906-239-0278

Home-delivered meals only. Menu for the week —

Monday: Cheddar turkey casserole, cauliflower and dinner roll.

Tuesday: Cheese omelet, oatmeal and spiced peaches.

Wednesday: Smothered pork chops, mashed potatoes and carrots.

Thursday: Beef stew and biscuit.

Friday: Chicken sandwich with cheese, chips and baked beans.

For more information, call Christine McMahon at 906-774-2256

Felch Center

906-246-3559

Now open with limited seating from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Monday through Wednesday. Menu for the week —

Monday: Lasagna, side salad, garlic bread and California blend vegetables.

Tuesday: Shrimp pasta, broccoli and salad.

Wednesday: Steak stir fry, rice and maple carrots.

Aging and Disability Resource Center of Florence County, Wis.

715-528-4890

Director: Tiffany White

Home-delivered meals only. Menu for the week —

Monday: Chicken ala king, buttered noodles, side salad and fruit.

Tuesday: Brat on a bun, German potato salad, baked beans and fruit.

Wednesday: Beef stew with vegetables, biscuits, fruit and pumpkin bar.

Thursday: Smothered pork chop, mashed potatoes, spinach and fruit.

Friday: Tuna salad on a croissant, spinach and orange salad, carrot sticks and fruit.

Fence Center/Town Hall

715-336-2980

For meal reservations, call 855-528-2372

Same as ADRC menu, home-delivered only.

Florence Community Center/Town Hall

For meal reservations, call 715-528-4261

Same as ADRC menu, home-delivered only.

Tipler Town Hall

For meal reservations, call 715-674-2320

Same as ADRC menu, home-delivered only.

Hillcrest Senior Dining Center, Aurora

For meal reservations, call 715-589-4491

Same as ADRC menu, home-delivered only.

Hermansville Center

Coordinator: Pam Haluska

906-498-7735

Iron River Center

906-265-6134

Now open with limited seating 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Monday through Wednesday. Home-delivered and/or takeout only on Thursdays. Menu for week —

Monday: Veggie pizza and cottage cheese.

Tuesday: Sloppy Joe, fries and broccoli.

Wednesday: Tuna casserole, salad and hard-boiled egg.

Thursday: Hot dog, potato salad and calico beans.

Niagara Northwoods Senior Cafe and Center

Meal site manager: Corrie Maule, 715-251-1603

Senior center director: Jill Anderson, 715-251- 4154

Norway Center

Director: Susie Slining

906-563-8716

The center will remain closed; however, takeout meals will be prepared for pick up – must call ahead and wear a mask when picking up. Menu for the week —

Monday: Cabbage roll, carrots and onion, biscuit and dessert.

Tuesday: Salisbury steak, mashed potatoes and gravy, cream corn, fruit, juice, milk and dessert.

Wednesday: Philly steak on a hoagie bun, peppers and onions, tater tots, fruit, juice, milk and dessert.

Thursday: Lasagna, broccoli, garlic bread, fruit, juice, milk and dessert.

Sagola Center

906-542-3273

Now open with limited seating from noon to 1 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday. Menu for the week —

Tuesday: Salisbury steak, mashed potatoes, broccoli and Mandarin oranges.

Wednesday: Polish sausage with bun, baked potatoes, mixed vegetables and applesauce.

Thursday: Chicken casserole, noodles, peas and pears.

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