Guest Commentary: We’re all in this together
I wanted to take a moment to thank all of you who are doing everything you can to keep our community safe and to limit the spread of the COVID-19 virus. To our beach front vendors, restaurants, hoteliers and individuals who are self isolating, I applaud you for making the effort and taking the measures necessary to keep you, your friends and neighbors safe.
Our community has had the unique challenge of dealing with visitors who normally flock to our island this time of year. It has been a surreal experience to ask them to leave. As many of you know, I have three businesses that thrive on our tourism economy but when we declared a state of emergency, I closed our doors. The thought of even one person becoming ill or one employee contracting the virus unknowingly was too much to bear. I know many other business owners have made the same decision. Our customers and clients are like family to us. Many of them return year after year, many have been visiting FMB with their families for multiple generations. We have appreciated so very much their cooperation in either remaining at home or returning to their home so as not to stress our resources here.
I also recognize how terribly difficult this is for everyone because we are used to living a very social life here on the island. We’re used to being able to walk the beach freely to visit with neighbors, to enjoy dining out with friends at our favorite spots. We are social creatures as Islanders. Unfortunately, right now, the worst thing we could do is socialize.
I’m starting to learn the joy of a video chat and cards and letters that I’ve almost forgotten how to write in the day of a quick text message.
I spoke with one of my cousins in Spain the other day. He’s really quite an extraordinary person and is in charge of some pretty important work there in that country. He’s contracted the virus. He and his family are quarantined. Even in light of that, his comment to me was that he believed this is a tremendous opportunity for us to become better people and almost more importantly, better societies. Maybe this seems a little aspirational to you right nowmaybe even hokey, but I believe it as well.
I see and hear about neighbors helping neighbors about those who can reaching out to those who can not. I am so proud to be a resident of this community. I am so proud to know each and every one of you. I am so proud to call myself an Islander.
We have come together as a community many times and faced lots of hardship whether that was recent water issues or hurricanes and we’ve come through it, together. This is going to test our will like nothing else ever has. I want you to know that I’m here if I can help you in any way. I want you to know that I truly believe we will come out on the other side better and stronger because of the swift and decisive measures we took early on.
So again, thank you. Thank you for everything you’re doing to be proactive and safe during these challenging days and weeks ahead. Continue to be good to one another. Have patience with those who are working to keep our community going whether that’s the pharmacist at CVS or the stock person at Publix. They’re doing their best under significantly trying situation.
The expression “we’re all in this together” has never been more true than it is today and because we’re in it together and because we can rely upon one another, we’ll get through it. There are difficult days ahead.
God-bless you, your family, your friends and neighbors. Keep a hopeful spirit.
Anita Cereceda, Fort Myers Beach Mayor