The Whole is Greater: SIP and Community During COVID-19

By Gene Paleno

The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. This Truth was never greater than the present when we are experiencing, together, the ugly tragedy of COVID-19. The proof and best evidence that you and I will not only get through this affliction but that we shall become stronger was never clearer than it is now.

Time after time I have seen how people in Lake County reach out to help someone. We have always risen up individually, and as a community, to support each other. We have demonstrated this Truth countless times by reaching out to a neighbor, and even total strangers, as they might to a person in their family. Why should it be otherwise? We are all a part of the Human Family.

We are blessed. We are off the beaten track a bit, a County separated, without a railroad. Surrounded by a half dozen volcanoes, you and I live near one of the finest lakes in the world and with the purest air anywhere.

When a catastrophe like COVID-19 strikes us all unaware and unprepared, along with, and far greater than, its evil, the people of our entire small County rise to the occasion to help. I’ve watched a hundred small and large instances when people reached out to strangers to help, to do something that makes the difficulty less. In no other place in this world does that principle take greater command, and make the travail a little less onerous to bear, than here in Lake County.

Like so many of our older folk who also live alone, my good friend Claudine’s phone call, to see if I was alright, was only one of the calls I received. Linda, my good neighbor, and other fine folks I know have phoned to asked me, ‘Since we are going to the store, do you need anything?’ I’ve had emails from people just checking on me, who cared enough to reach out to me to offer help, despite their own trials and tribulations.

Meals on Wheels has been helped by dozens of new volunteers to distribute food to the older, disabled and the people alone. I mentioned to one such new volunteer, that since I was in place and no longer shopping, ‘Next week, instead of two meals since I no longer go out to shop, can you bring me an extra meal or two without depriving anyone else?’ Instantly, with no further word that angel went to the car and added a whole lot of groceries; a loaf of bread, cartons of milk and other good surprises.

The telephone is a fine therapeutic device. When we phone each other to help someone know they are not alone, we help ourselves feel less alone. Helping others is our mission. Recall the words I’ve said once or twice? All we leave on this small blue world whirling in space, and our time on earth is finished, is what we have done for others. I single phone call… or an email helps stave off the loneliness of the person you call and staves off our own loneliness of having to ‘live in place.’

No person is ever alone. Kept in our houses with no one around, know that there are others near, who want to help and comfort you. We humans are a species that has never become true loners. We need each other and, as much as some of us seem to be independent with no need for other people, we are not.  Humans are hard-wired to be a single wonderful organism. That one single, magnificent quality in each one of us, ensures we shall not only survive, one day we shall accomplish miracles undreamed of. Cleo, my cat, and I are happy we live in Lake County

Gene Paleno

Gene runs his life at a full sprint. In his ninety-three years he's dug ditches, painted signs, played semi-pro football, worked as a taxicab driver, an insurance agent, and a school teacher. He's been a technical artist, a marketing director, and a business owner. He served in World War II, raised four children, and was married to the love of his life for fifty years. He's an accomplished oil painter and skilled in ceramics. He's written fifteen books, including the definitive Lake County History, and doesn't show any signs of slowing down.


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