Unity, innovation and in­tegrity will get us through this pan­demic

The Dundalk Eagle - - BY THE PEOPLE - By KATH­LEEN MCNALLY-DURKIN CEO, The Arc Bal­ti­more

COVID-19 has chal­lenged all of us to think, work, and act in dif­fer­ent ways. Oddly enough, the val­ues that are needed to deal with the pan­demic – and that so many of us have dis­played over the past few months – are the same val­ues at the core of The Arc Bal­ti­more’s mis­sion to sup­port peo­ple with de­vel­op­men­tal dis­abil­i­ties to lead ful­fill­ing lives with a sense of be­long­ing, pur­pose, and mean­ing­ful re­la­tion­ships.

Pri­mary among those val­ues is unity. Per­haps unity in a time of so­cial dis­tanc­ing, self-iso­la­tion, and quar­an­tine may sound like a dis­con­nect. But as we heard re­peat­edly in ev­ery­thing from the re­marks of our elected of­fi­cials to count­less TV ads, “We are all in this to­gether.”

Unity is ex­actly what the ac­tions of so many of us is demon­strat­ing. By so­cial dis­tanc­ing, by iso­lat­ing, by wear­ing a face­mask in pub­lic, and by stay­ing home, we have demon­strated a col­lec­tive con­scious­ness about car­ing for one an­other. And just as this unity of pur­pose is at the heart of the work done by The Arc Bal­ti­more, these ac­tions should re­mind us that we rely on each other in or­der for so­ci­ety to work, to keep us safe and strong, and to bring our lives mean­ing.

How we do that brings me to the sec­ond value that has been abun­dantly on dis­play in the face of COVID-19: innovation. In the same way as The Arc Bal­ti­more has found in­no­va­tive ways to help the in­di­vid­u­als whom we sup­port to lead ful­fill­ing lives, the pan­demic has led many of us to be cre­ative and adapt to new ways to face our shared chal­lenge. From how we school our kids to the way in which we work, from curb­side de­liv­er­ies to Zoom calls with friends and work col­leagues, we have all found in­no­va­tive ways to meet this cri­sis head-on.

Unity and innovation, how­ever, are mean­ing­less with­out in­tegrity. In­tegrity means do­ing the right thing, even when it is not the eas­i­est thing to do, even when no one is look­ing.

This value hits par­tic­u­larly close to home for me. When I was grow­ing up, my Dad val­ued hon­esty and in­tegrity above all else. I still re­mem­ber the time we had just re­turned from food shop­ping and my Dad re­al­ized the clerk had given him the wrong change. He im­me­di­ately loaded my sis­ter and me back in the sta­tion wagon and drove back to the store to give that clerk the money. Even at that age, I re­al­ized it wasn’t about the 85 cents. It was about teach­ing his daugh­ters to do the right thing. With­out in­tegrity, we have noth­ing.

The same is true in this pan­demic. Are you do­ing the right thing? Are you wear­ing a face mask in pub­lic, even though it may be hot and un­com­fort­able? Are you wash­ing your hands and tak­ing your tem­per­a­ture fre­quently, even though it is un­com­fort­able to do? Are you prac­tic­ing so­cial dis­tanc­ing, even in your per­sonal life, know­ing that what you do will ul­ti­mately keep the peo­ple you work with or just pass on the street safe and healthy?

I know these times are hard, and that we are tired and ready for life to get back to nor­mal. And it will. But it will be dif­fer­ent too. And by con­tin­u­ing to put into prac­tice the val­ues of unity, innovation, and in­tegrity, we will de­fine “nor­mal” to­gether.


Fe­male hand writ­ing notes in a note­book on a desk at of­fice

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