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What is essential?

The Palace Theatre in Lake Placid has provided inspiration throughout the various New York state phases.  (Provided photo — Diane Chase)

Since the beginning of quarantine in March, the word “essential” has been tossed around by government officials, businesses and individuals. People and their livelihoods were labeled either essential or not. People lost jobs because they were not essential. Other people felt belittled because their chosen career seemed expendable. People had to pause their livelihoods because they were deemed unnecessary. People wandered through a maze of doubt.

Other people had to uphold rules they didn’t make because they were labeled essential. They entered stressful environments to provide services in altered work environments. It became something personal. Our lives were pared down to basic human needs. 

With each reopening stage, based on safety precautions, businesses and services opened. We had options to dwell on a word that made us feel irrelevant or use the opportunity to understand our own self-worth. 

I know there are countless businesses, business people and individuals demonstrating to me and everyone around them how to make the best of a grim situation. Though nonessential from a COVID standpoint, many businesses and individuals are still dedicating their time lifting neighbors and friends, not dwelling on unfair circumstances. 

I am not affiliated with any local businesses, but I’d like to take a moment to thank Jason McComber of Fitness Revolution and the Clark family at the Palace Theatre for starters. If you need to be inspired, look to McComber’s attempts to unite Lake Placid. He has reminded people that it shouldn’t take a pandemic to make people kind. Even as his own business remained closed, he continued to support other local entities and be a positive role model. He has directed people to other services, even his own competitors. He connected people, not because it’s a pandemic but because it’s the right thing to do.

The Palace Theatre remains closed, but the Clarks made sure an important holiday tradition kept going. The Christmas Giving Trees filled their lobby with holiday requests from local children. Each tag represented a wish. With each tag taken and gift purchased, a wish was fulfilled. They also managed to lift spirits while attempting to reopen and redesign a business through each clever COVID-related movie slogan on their lighted marquee. 

You don’t need to be essential to be needed. It doesn’t mean that your chosen career isn’t important. It just means that something else took precedence. Just like we can look for those people that help or we can be the helpers. I would like to thank all businesses and people for their community work. I may not know who you are, but I know there are plenty of people quietly doing work behind the scenes. They may not be providing essential services, but their presence, business and community dedication provide something more than basic human needs. They provide creativity, artistry, kindness and compassion. 

If you know other people who can use a shout-out, please let me know. Remember, it wasn’t a big-box store or online conglomerate helping you; it has always been neighbors helping neighbors. Stay safe, and keep doing the good work.

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