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Live United: Resiliency has been key with this year’s campaign kickoff

Live United by Erin Haag


Resiliency is the power to overcome problems and bounce back better than before.

People think this is about really big things. But resiliency is most often built by adapting to change in positive ways on the little things. Construction on Bridge Avenue getting you down? That’s OK. Your new route to work will take you by the breathtaking tree on Garfield avenue that’s sporting bright fall colors.

Erin Haag

I had a grand plan for this kick-off week. We focused our week on gratitude. Volunteers bagged up apples donated from Huntley Gardens and shared them with programs in the area — from seniors to early childhood classrooms. More volunteers baked apple crisps with the cooking apples, and those were shared with educational IT departments. We also participated in a luncheon to thank area law enforcement and the fire department. Loaves and Fishes cooked up pans and pans of sweet apple treats for the 133 people in need of a hot meal last week.

My grand plan wasn’t complete though. I wanted to do large yard signs where community members could come and write their messages of gratitude for our frontline workers. Materials that arrived damaged, strong winds and other obstacles stood in my way. My team would adjust and come up with a solution such as using garden T-post stakes, only to realize that we didn’t want to take the chance of pounding stakes into the ground and inadvertently cutting a cable to our courthouse and law enforcement center. Oh…em…gee — that would be a crisis.

My bright blue United Way sign board stood incomplete, with the state of Minnesota outlined, waiting for those messages. I’m not giving up though. Our message of gratitude isn’t needed to happen in one week. Just like any official appreciation day shouldn’t be only one day; our gratitude campaign is throughout the whole campaign.

Resiliency for my gratitude signs is happening, and we’ll bounce back better than before. There has already been an offer to build me frames for the signs to make them into A-frames that will be sturdy enough for those Minnesota wind tunnels. Wood was donated by Palleton Pallets to build those frames. The first one was built this week, and the others will be finished this weekend. Then, the team will decide when and where they’ll be displayed. Right now the favorite is during Minnesota Week of Kindness, Nov. 16 to 20. If I talk about where, I’ll jinx it, and there’ll be 20 feet of snow at my location, so let’s just hold off on that.

In other exciting news, we’re having a Pop-Up Pantry again! The USDA announced an additional third round of food, and we got the unexpected call from Channel One Regional Food Bank. With only a short time-frame, and many of my volunteer sources back in school, I wasn’t sure. I emailed our county leaders — and the response was overwhelming. DO IT — we have your back. Boy, do they. I’ve got a great line-up of volunteers that I can count on.

The Pop-Up Pantry will be Oct. 9, starting at 11 a.m. at the United Way offices. The address is 2610 Y.H. Hanson, Albert Lea, MN.

Not only that, but the Freeborn County Public Health Department, led by Sue Yost, quickly pulled together a team to offer a flu shot. The shot is free for those with Medical Assistance, MnCare and Medicare.

If you don’t fall into one of those categories, there is a charge of $35.

The Pop-Up Flu Shot Clinic will be held from 9 to 10:30 a.m.  The idea is that those who are lining up for the Pop-Up Pantry will be able to get their flu shot while they wait in line.

Healthy food, healthy preventive care. With 400 boxes of food coming our way, the United Way Winter Gear Drive in partnership with the Chamber of Commerce, and many of our workplace campaigns kicking off next week, I’m feeling good about the impact we’re having in our community. Want to help? Look to the Tribune for more articles about the 2020 campaign or give us a call at 507-373-8670 to learn more.

Erin Haag is the executive director of the United Way of Freeborn County.