Community members share reflections on Covid-19 virus

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On March 12 Jaderial Staebler of Guttenberg, right, along with 20 of her Wartburg College teammates, were informed that they would not be able to compete in the NCAA Division III Indoor National Championship Track and Field Meet due to concerns brought on by the Coronavirus. (Photo submitted)

By Caroline Rosacker

The Guttenberg Press recently reached out to women in the community and asked them to share their personal experiences during these unprecedented times of social distancing and fear of Covid-19.

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M.J. Smith

M.J. Smith, Director of Affiliate Foundations for the Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque, freelance writer and spouse of a physician shared, "We have never experienced this type of serious national health emergency and the need for extreme social distancing and accompanying life disruption.

"I do visit with my 94-year-old Mom for context about the time we are in.  She well remembers the national anxiety during WW II, gas rationing, and the names of neighbor boys who fell in the War.

"I do seek comfort through my faith. Romans 5:4 is one of my favorite readings and offers hope and direction around perseverance.

"I am missing my friends, faith community, yoga group,  work community, and my family members, but I remain connected by virtual meetings, phone and text. "I have taken time to check in with the Family Resource Center.  It feels good to take action and support their good work. I am taking time to call friends and family who are especially isolated. 

"Because my husband, Andy, is on the frontline of caring for our community, our plans are set once he is exposed to the virus. It is comforting to have a plan.  He will wear washable clothes and shoes to work and we will be able to wash them directly and immediately at the end of his work day.  He will quarantine in our downstairs and I will send his nourishment down on disposable plates. 

"As an eternal optimist, I treasure the gift of our good health today and our ability to be helpers. I am thankful for the gift of time to clean closets, write letters and sort photos. I trust that once this passes, we will have learned important lessons about preparedness, responsiveness, resilience and the importance of a caring healthcare community." 

Molly Moser

Molly Moser, Community Coordinator for Community Foundations of Greater Dubuque and a new mother, commented, "On Sunday night when I went to bed, things seemed normal. When I woke up Monday morning, the coronavirus wasn't just on the news anymore. Schools were closed. People around me were being tested. My office in Dubuque had canceled most of our meetings and all our events through the end of April. 

"I work from home two days a week, but am now working here all the time. It seems to be going fine, and I hope it will result in more widespread acceptance of the work from home movement. People are finding ways to connect via chat, file sharing and web meeting applications. I took two video calls with coworkers this week in my sweats. Projects continue to move forward. Our leadership has been very flexible and supportive. 

"Social distancing is an introvert's dream. Running errands? Canceled. That party you felt obligated to attend? Darn, you'll have to stay home. Grocery shopping? Forced to do it online, from my couch. 

"People are isolated, but they are reaching out and banding together. Fitness companies are offering free online workouts. My Facebook groups are abuzz with educational resources available for kids. Moms working from home are joking about the ridiculous antics their coworkers (i.e., their children) are up to. My child goes to day care while I work, but today I found out day care will be closed for two weeks. I'm grateful my husband and I both have jobs with scheduling flexibility and paid vacation. It's important we remember that not everyone does, and people will need help in the coming weeks and months.

"I called my grandma today to see how she's doing. She doesn't get out often anyway, and she said she's not worried about the pandemic — she's been through things like this before and fared just fine. I Face-timed my mom, and my sister, and our babies smiled at each other through the screens. It was sweet, but also sad. I went to borrow a gadget from her – I just waved at her through the front window and grabbed it off her porch without going inside. 

"What's happening is scary. I worry about my loved ones getting sick and am concerned by the state of mind we're in as a society. A friend recently sent me a poem by Kitty O'Meara that made me take a different look at the situation. It begins with the line, "And the people stayed home," and points out the healing that can happen when we take time to slow down, reflect, and enjoy those we're closest with. Maybe a little look inward is what we need to better appreciate what really matters."

Becky Hefel

Becky Hefel, retiree and grandmother, told The Press, "I keep a calendar by my coffee pot where every event or plan is entered and I look at it every morning. This week I found myself crossing off each item I had entered for the next few weeks; game night with friends, my nephew’s family gathering, firemen’s dance, trivia night at the library, play at the Opera House, taking my grandkids to their favorite museum, a trip to Madison. "I realize these events pale in comparison to those facing  job or day care loss, but it has made me realize how many simple freedoms I take for granted. I have always enjoyed solitude, but the idea of being restricted to it is new and I admit, uncomfortable at times. It feels like an exercise in awareness and I try to breathe deeply when I realize anxiety is trying to edge in. 

"I am catching up on reading, listening to music and podcasts and keeping a journal of this experience for my grandkids to look back on someday. I also find going for a walk in nature helpful, where the only crowds are the birds singing their cheerful spring songs.”

Jaderial Staebler

Jaderial Staebler, Wartburg College student/athlete, articulated, “March 12, 2020 marked a day in history as I, along with my twenty teammates were informed that we would not be able to compete in the NCAA Division III Indoor National Championship Track and Field Meet. 

“Most of who we are as student-athletes comes from our identity in track and field. Our entire sport is predicated on cumulative growth and work over time. In addition to a full class schedule and a job, my days were filled with year-round training. This included summer training, preseason lifting and hard workouts even before the season opened for regular competition. Once the season officially began, practice consisted of early morning weight lifting before class and daily practice after class. 

“The National Meet provides an environment to run your personal best and fastest relay times against the best athletes in the nation. This level of competition is also where you have the ability to earn All-American status. Our lives have been greatly altered from not being able to compete in this event. 

“Track and Field has an indoor and an outdoor season. The National Meet marks the end of the indoor season. The outdoor season then begins and goes through the end of May, ending with the National Outdoor Championship. 

“For the individuals who do not qualify to compete at that level, their season ends with the final meet of each respective season. While still trying to digest the meaning of the cancellation, we were informed of the NCAA decision to cancel the entire outdoor season. Although the NCAA has granted spring athletes an extra year of eligibility to compete, it is hard for those competing at the non-athletic scholarship NCAA Division III Level. At the Division III level, athletes could return for another spring semester of classes and competition; however, they would have to privately pay for tuition because Division III schools do not provide athletic scholarships.

“There is comfort in normality. Upon returning from the meet with my disappointed teammates, I was determined to resume college life without track. However, that “normality” was quickly altered yet again. We were informed by the President of Wartburg College that we would switch to remote class. Although we would switch to remote classes, we were still allowed to live on campus and uphold our “normal” lifestyles. Within two days, this quickly altered again, and we were highly suggested to return home to be with our families during this time of uncertainty. Within less than 24 hours, I packed and headed home to Guttenberg. 

“Our lives have been greatly altered, but my athletics have taught me that when faced with adversity, one must be resilient. We will continue to train for next year’s season and focus on the opportunities that lie ahead of us. As Ed Thomas, the former head coach for Aplington-Parkersburg said, “Adversity is a test of character.” During these adverse times, we must remain true to the lives we have been living before COVID-19 changed that and show our true character. March 12, 2020 will be a day I will never forget and has reminded me of something my coach, Marcus Newsom, always shares with us: ‘We are not promised tomorrow. We must live for today and take advantage of every opportunity.’ 

“In this time of uncertainty, I challenge you to live for today and cherish every day, hour, minute, and second that you can because you never know when your everyday routine can be altered.”

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