Commentary: Verde Valley goodness prevails during pandemic

During the worst of times we’ve seen the very best of the Verde Valley.

Yes, no doubt, this coronavirus pandemic has made an absolute mess of our lives. Socially deprived. Personal finances are a mess. We’ve all seen brighter days.

Through it all, though, COVID-19 has not dampened the Verde Valley’s collective goodness. At almost every turn, you can find people stepping up and putting into the practice the aged biblical admonition to love your neighbor as yourself.

Times may be bad, but goodwill has prevailed here in the Verde Valley.

Free food distribution is at an all-time high right now thanks to the tireless efforts of the volunteers from Manzanita Outreach, Rising Hope Food Pantry, local missions and senior centers.

The folks at Blazin’ M Ranch are regularly hosting a drive-thru meal service for the region’s out-of-work restaurant and hospitality industry employees. And let’s face it, when you are talking about Blazin’ M, the word “meal” is a bit of a misnomer. They specialize in a “spread” and are going the extra mile to treat their work-displaced industry colleagues like kings and queens.

Members from the Northern Arizona Retired Nurses In Action have stepped up to assist the ongoing efforts of the Verde Valley Caregivers Coalition. These retired nurses are making the rounds to personally see to the needs of home-bound seniors who need, if nothing else, personal interaction from someone willing to lend a helping hand and offer a listening ear.

Local governments throughout the Verde Valley have partnered with the Northern Arizona Council of Governments to provide assistance to those currently unable to pay their rent.

Friday, radio professionals from 94.7 JACK FM and KPPV 106.7 FM teamed up for a fund-raising broadcast to keep the food coffers full at the Old Town Mission.

A newly formed 501(c)(3) local nonprofit has been established -- #CottonwoodConnected – to raise funds and distribute them where they are most needed among the Verde Valley’s non-profit charitable organizations.

The seamstresses from the Verde Sews organization have grown to 50 volunteers working in factory assembly style seven days a week in an effort to sew 2,000 hospital gowns for Verde Valley Medical Center.

Cottonwood’s Jesse Dowling has used his pandemic downtime for a garage project to create face shields that supplements other protective gear, such as respirator masks, for healthcare workers. Similarly, former Verde Valley resident Gregory Smithson, who now lives in Gilbert, is making face masks, face shields and ear tabs to aid those in the medical profession. Every few days, he meets his mother, Lori, halfway between Gilbert and the Verde Valley to drop off a new supply. Lori, a nurse at Verde Valley Medical Center, makes the final delivery of the much-needed supplies to her VVMC colleagues.

That’s just a sampling of the goodwill we’ve seen in just the past week to help those struggling with this nightmare known at COVID-19.

Sure, we have our fair share of conspiracy-theory negativity in the Verde Valley, especially in the cesspool of public opinion otherwise known as social media. That’s to be expected.

But such darkness will never take hold when put up against the loving light that has prevailed in the Verde Valley.

Someday, hopefully soon, this will all be behind us and we all can reflect on what we’ve been through.

When that day comes, the prevailing refrain no doubt will be that the Verde Valley “did good” during this pandemic.

We did real good.

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