I usually write this column in minutes, but this month it did not come easily. I’ve struggled with what to write, not because there’s nothing going on but because so much has happened that I couldn’t narrow down the topics.
So, here’s a recap of the last couple of months for the Hope Council on Alcohol & Other Drug Abuse, also known as the little agency that could … at least in my mind.
First, we had COVID. The Hope Council provides essential services, so we’ve been at it all but two weeks in the beginning. We have protocols to protect staff and clients against COVID-19, and we’ve continued the essential work of the agency: assessments for those with tickets for Operating While Impaired; direct biomarker drug testing for clients and community members; supervised visitation to reunify parents with their noncustodial children; support groups to help folks deal with substance use disorders of their loved ones; and education groups to improve moral thinking.
Then came the leaky roof. Again. It’s been patched and patched and patched, and we’re making movement toward getting it replaced, but one morning there was a small flood in our conference room. And one of the bathrooms. Our fingers are crossed that a freak wind caused it just that one time. And still we provided essential services.
Then came the hive of bald-faced hornets. Above the front door. Evidently these aren’t just any hornets; these are the aggressive ones! Thank goodness for Brent Towle of Spectrum Pest Control. He eliminated the hornets free of charge. Which was GREAT because, next came…
Civil unrest. Our little agency was already strapped, and the unrest wreaked havoc with – well, everything. I still can’t process what’s happened in our little community, and I’m stunned when someone from outside says, “Oh, but that hasn’t affected you, right?” It took a minute to figure this out, but Kenosha has less than a sixth of the population and is less than a sixth of the size of most other cities affected by civil unrest. All Kenoshans been affected.
So here’s where it got good: our community came and helped.
Alexandria Robinson of Downtown Kenosha, Inc., with help from lots of others, organized so many people and events, and nothing short of a miracle happened. Using donated plywood, Hope Council’s windows were boarded up by firefighters who came up from Waukegan to volunteer, and a person whose family used our services volunteered to lead the charge in getting the boards painted!
Other nonprofits chipped in with paint and sweat, and in the chaos our community became even stronger. The story of the Hope Council has been repeated over and over and over throughout our community for both for-profit and nonprofit organizations.
It’s been a rough couple of months, but this community is amazing! We are truly #KenoshaStrong.
Guida Brown is executive director of the Hope Council on Alcohol & Other Drug Abuse, Inc.