May 8, 2020
From left to right: Judy Maggio, Gerda Weissmann Klein and Julie Simon Loftsgaarden.
“If we have hope even in the darkest moments, I think it's the most important weapon. We all have an incredible amount of strength that we are not familiar with until we are really tested.” — Gerda Weissmann Klein, Holocaust survivor
Throughout this pandemic I’ve kept the words of Gerda Weissmann Klein close to my heart. I’m fortunate to know “Grandma” Gerda because her granddaughter, Julie, is one of my dearest friends. Her life story is a bright beacon of hope. Gerda survived something far more evil than a virus. She is a Jew from Poland whose entire family was killed during the Holocaust. She endured the unimaginable and yet spent her life sharing her story of survival, strength and forgiveness.
Like Gerda, I am an eternal optimist. In hope, I see resiliency and the capacity to not only recover but learn life-altering lessons from this dark time. I recently interviewed Kirk Watson, the longtime state senator who is now the dean of the Hobby School of Public Affairs at the University of Houston. I asked Watson what gives him hope right now. He said, “We are in a timeout. We can evaluate what was working and what wasn’t. So when we go back into the game, what we don’t do is just try to reinvent the old playbook! We can create a new playbook for resiliency and treat our economy in a way that we are stronger and we are better than we were before ... and that gives me hope.”
Hope is at hand if you look for it. I find it in the faces of the first responders, nurses and doctors who put themselves in harms way every single day to care for Covid-19 patients. They can’t shelter in place and wait for the danger to pass. They suit up in their armor and fight the virus for the rest of us.
Hope is front and center at the nonprofits with their dedicated volunteers coming to the rescue of the most vulnerable in our community during Covid-19: the edlerly, the homeless, people lacking food or the victims of domestic violence. These heroes fill me with hope.
This pandemic has changed the way we work, play, connect and communicate. Please don’t let it take away our hope and optimism. That’s what will make us resilient as we rebuild and reinvent.
If you need some inspiration, remember the words of Gerda Weissmann Klein. “Even in the most difficult times, you have to have hope. Hope is the light to the future of everything”.
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