“A time of crisis is not just a time of anxiety and worry. It gives a chance, an opportunity, to choose well or to choose badly.”— Desmond Tutu

While going through some of my storage shelves, I re-discovered a bin of newspaper clippings I had received from my mother about a decade ago. These snapshots in time were especially personal for me as they were glimpses into my mother’s past.

The first set of numerous clippings was from the Olean New York Times Herald of July 27, 1972. Olean is where my mom’s parents lived so I know the area well. On that day, the people of Olean were in the midst of a flood they hadn’t seen the likes of in 30 years. The news was filled with stories of people helping each other through the challenge.

The next newspapers I found were from July 20, 1942. They contained the stories of that previous flood. The papers were full of news about the Olean flood alongside articles about the tragedies of World War II.  

One story that I especially appreciated is the one I chose for the photo in this newsletter.  “Leg broken in six places did not prevent Mrs. Maxine Hargis, Olean’s Red Cross director, from being at her emergency post”.  Below that clipping, the headline reads “Red Cross Says Help Came From Everywhere”. 

I certainly would have found it impossible to say “no” to that kind of leadership.

Today’s COVID-19 crisis is not the same as these other events.  However, there is one thing that strikes me as very similar. The people in the midst of these historic events had no idea when the trouble would end and what would happen after it did.

In spite of this, Mrs. Maxine Hargis and many others were there for the challenge.

May I, you, and all of us have that same level of resilience and leadership.

Yours in the calm pursuit of excellence,

Alan Willett

Olean New York Times Herald, July 27, 1972.

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