Pause and Reboot
In this introduction to a regular column by the Aberdeen Area Diversity Coalition, the organization reflects on the challenges of connecting people during a pandemic and their hopes for the future.

Pause and Reboot

The Aberdeen Area Diversity Coalition’s purpose is to creatively connect the diverse cultures in the Aberdeen area by addressing unmet needs, providing information, and partnering with one another to develop cross-cultural experiences and promote dialogue and understanding. Whew! 

“Pause and reboot” are the words that best describe the AADC’s work during this pandemic. A friend recently put it this way with regard to all our lives, “COVID has caused us to make peculiar adjustments every day.”

The AADC’s first pandemic “pause and reboot” was not being able to hold our regular in-person meetings twice a month. For the duration, the meetings are now on the first Thursday of each month at 10:00 AM on Zoom. These virtual get-togethers are like a giant switchboard connecting people to people. Remember Ernestine on the comedy show Laugh-In? (I am old.) Today’s term would be “networking.” 

Even with the “peculiar adjustments” of COVID, the AADC has been able to make connections. We heard of a need for iPads for non-English speaking families. An AADC stakeholder said, “I can fix that.” 

A new family to the area needed a way to get their children to school. Ride Line is full. Taxi service is limited. There are no in-town school busses. An AADC stakeholder said, “I can help that family.” 

Someone from Presentation was looking for Native American regalia. Amazingly, you guessed it, an AADC stakeholder said, “I have what you need. Come and get it.”

During the holiday season, stakeholders were made aware by Liesl Hovel, AADC vice-chair and development director for Lutheran Social Services, that the children at the New Beginnings Center would not be able to go home for Christmas. If one were exposed to COVID and exposed others, New Beginnings would have to “pause” for weeks. Liesl asked for help. Individual citizens and organization stakeholders came to the rescue to make a Merry Christmas for those youth. A shout out to Liesl for her energy. (And she shouts out to all who helped make an awesome holiday.)

Worldwide, there is an immediate need for food distribution that has only been heightened by the pandemic. We know several local organizations that provide food have had to “pause and reboot” and make “peculiar adjustments,” too. COVID has placed a long pause on many in-person meals. “Pause and reboot” for them has looked like grab-and-go holiday meals and well organized drive-by food banks. 

Still, there is no “peculiar adjustment” that can take the place of sharing meals in person. Unfortunately, AADC stakeholder Gordon Tree Top reported that the regular study night for Native American youth is on a long pause. These study evenings begin with a meal, as eating together is just as important as tutoring a math lesson. 

The AADC is looking forward to post-COVID plans when people can gather to sing and dance and eat together at meet and greets. These events are one way to take that first, often hesitant, step to get to know people of other cultures, including the new Americans (refugees and immigrants) in Aberdeen.

It will be a great day when the in-person pause button is set to resume for people to people events.

Pausing. For now.

Any civic organization, business, church representative, or concerned citizen interested in joining the AADC as a stakeholder can visit aberdeencoalition.org or email revrich@abe.midco.net.