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Community Stories: Life During COVID-19

Barb’s Story

Here is GPL patron and neighbor Barb Hassan’s story:

As a child, my love of books was insatiable. However, I was a bit fearful of the Elkhart Public Library, as the children’s librarian didn’t believe I had actually read all the books I checked out. She would grill me when I returned books. When, my husband and I moved to Goshen, 27 years ago, we were delighted to have the Goshen Public Library only four houses away!

Just prior to the March shut down, I had checked out some 15 of my favorite books. Little did I know how long the duration would be; nor that the library would be closed! As a retired medical social worker, my routines involved volunteer work at the Depot, board work with LaCasa, and hospitality tasks with Assembly Mennonite Church. Visits with my granddaughter, her parents and granddogs, and friends were frequent.

Once the shelter in place orders were shared and businesses were closing, I knew I was in big trouble. My fifteen books were read in that first week! My sweet husband and I had already acclimated to retirement, and actually interacted well together. We had never been ones to eat out with much frequency. Cooking and baking had been commonplace. Perhaps the hardest piece of sheltering in place has been the inability to spend time and hug our granddaughter. She is growing and maturing so quickly! Her two dogs also miss our meetings. Walking, biking and gardening provided us with exercise. In inclement weather, we would exercise together in the house or dance to music of the Swing Era.

Neither of us use technology to any extent. Our television watching is PBS, as we don’t have cable. Watching the PBS Newshour nightly was already a ritual, as was listening to NPR. We also read area newspapers and subscribe to the Wall Street Journal. While I have been involved in some webinars, and zoom meetings, my heart just isn’t in these offerings.

As the weather has become warmer, and we are entering phase two of reopening our local economy, I do remain concerned about increased transmission of this virus. I have no expectation that a vaccine will be available before winter of 2021, if then. My hope is that treatments to lessen the severity of symptoms may occur within the next 6-9 months. One of my greatest worries is for those individuals and families who lack jobs and are undocumented.  Returning large numbers of children to buildings with small classrooms and large congregant areas also seems unwise.

My hopes are that as a nation, we will understand our shared humanity. We are stronger and more able to adapt when we work, play and pray as a community. This pandemic affords the opportunity to rethink our lifestyle choices. Our thirty-fifth anniversary was May 11th., the opening of curbside pickup at GPL. And, yes, I was first in line that afternoon to receive my books!!! Only 11 this time, but thankfully, the librarian did NOT grill me!!

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