He Just Wanted to Play Catch...
Jay and Karen discuss the ‘little things’ we all may be missing, as a result of the pandemic
To some extent, we as humans are truly ‘social animals.’ As such, the pandemic has been a difficult time for many – missing out on so many little things in life we would normally take for granted. And, sometimes even experiencing a gnawing feeling that you’re definitely missing something – but you can’t really pinpoint what it is.
It was in this context that I came upon a story this past week about a gentleman from Texas by the name of Frank Miller, a retired civil engineer and former collegiate pitcher. Though it was a game he grew up loving, he’d lost touch with baseball over the years. It was in the throes of the pandemic, however, when he decided to reconnect with it, reading a book about pitching and practicing his grips for pitches like the slider, curveball, and cutter around the house. As his wife Alice put it, he wanted to play catch.
So, one day, Alice decided to take to social media, posting that her husband was looking for someone to play catch with. Not knowing what the response would be, she was surprised when complete strangers began reacting to her post, saying they’d love to have a catch. So, Alice and Frank organized a group to meet at a local park the following Wednesday. After they arrived at the park a few days later, like a scene out of ‘Field of Dreams,’ people of all ages began showing up with baseball mitts under their arms. From members of the local high school baseball team to retirees, people of all ages came out just to have a catch. One woman even came just to watch. “I think people just want to reconnect right now”, Frank said of the response.
It was an incredibly simple act what Frank and Alice did, one that in normal times may not have garnered any attention. But, given the solitude this pandemic has forced on many and the fallout from a difficult election season, an activity as innocent as strangers coming together and having a catch is symbolic of so much more than its face value. Rich Mazzarella, one of the individuals who joined The Miller's at the park, said he showed up because it was, “the opportunity to do something that I never expected to do again in my life.” Even in the comments section of the article, it was clear that this catch between strangers in a small park outside of Dallas had resonated with so many across the country.
It’s a reminder that sometimes in life, bringing people together and making a positive impact in their lives isn’t as complicated as we might believe, it simply requires making the effort. As we look to rebuild connections, heal divisions, and get back to the things we’ve missed over the last year, each of us have the power to make an impact. We just need to remind ourselves, similar to Alice and Frank, the first steps we can take are sometimes the simplest ones.
Big News – Bristol Goes Broadband!
Bristol, NH is a small town of about 3,000 people in central New Hampshire, located approximately 30 miles north of Concord. And, even though it may be small, this great little town has big plans for the future. Recently, the town recognized the need to attract and retain more young people, but it had a big problem: the town had notoriously bad cell coverage, creating an almost insurmountable challenge in the effort to attract a younger, dynamic population. Staying connected is a big part of life, especially so for those under thirty. But, in order for the town to continue to grow and be viable in the long run, it needed more young people, and fast.
So, the town worked creatively and found grants to help increase cell service in the area. But the thought process didn’t end there. After increasing the cell coverage, the town again looked towards grant money and came up with a much bigger idea - high speed fiber internet to help usher in the jobs of the future.
Thus, was born – the ‘Bristol Broadband Now’ initiative. Town leaders in Bristol achieved a major breakthrough - securing the funding to lay 24 miles of fiber up to Plymouth State University and connect roughly half the homes in the town to the network. Now, the town is seeking to expand again and create a northern tech loop that will start and end with Bristol. Thus, providing Bristol with the high-tech infrastructure and connectivity required to attract a younger, vibrant population as well as business opportunities. When small towns think big, great things happen!
Veterans’ Organizations Succeed Despite COVID
As many of you know, I have great respect for our veterans and join in with the millions of Americans who honor their service. Those brave individuals in our military never stop serving. Meanwhile, veteran based organizations and veteran support groups never stop giving back.
Of the many mottos of our military, one that truly stands out – especially during these times is: "No Mission Too Difficult, No Sacrifice Too Great, Duty First.”
And, thankfully, veteran support organizations are stepping up to do their part in living up to this motto during these difficult days of the pandemic.
This is exemplified by the great work being done by one of our favorite organizations, Children of Fallen Patriots. In 2020, events got postponed, things went virtual, but the organization carried on, nonetheless. Children of Fallen Patriots has now supported 1950 students. Organizations like Vineyard Vines have stepped up and believers in the mission have made a difference.
Moreover, we are incredibly blessed for the continued support we have been able to generate for Fallen Patriots right here in New Hampshire. During these challenging economic times, Granite State residents have answered the call as well, donating thousands of dollars this past year to help children of military families go to college. Our veterans should be and will always be among the most honored and respected people in our country.
Covid-19 has brought havoc to everyone including the veteran community. A recent Associated Press story estimated that military suicides have increased by as much as twenty percent in 2020 compared to 2019. This is an astounding number. Our hearts go out to all those who suffer. Especially those individuals who have hung up their uniform yet continue to face mental health challenges. It is why Veteran Posts serve a huge role. They provide human interaction and provide opportunities for veterans and their families to continue on in their commitment to service.
One of those posts is American Legion Post 2, known to Granite Stater’s as ‘Sweeney Post,’ located on the east side of Manchester, New Hampshire. Sweeney Post has done an incredible job maintaining their support of veterans throughout the pandemic. Just next week on the 27th, they’re hosting a blood drive to support the Red Cross. Even more, members of the American Legion Riders Club, part of Sweeney Post, recently elected their executive officers and are already hard at work organizing rides to raise money in support of veterans causes across New Hampshire. Karen and I have attended and supported events held at the Post and thank the members for what they do and their continued work even under difficult circumstances. For more information on how you can support, click here.
"No Mission Too Difficult, No Sacrifice Too Great, Duty First.” - A steadfast motto that embodies the spirit of those who have served.
Positive Profile of the Week: Executive Councilor Joe Kenney
Councilor Joe Kenney is a pillar in New Hampshire politics. A veteran of the Marines, Joe has committed his life to the service of both his nation and the Granite State. When he was stationed in Virginia In 1989, he was pulled out of Officer Candidate School and honored by President George H. W. Bush. Why might you ask? He had organized a children’s toy drive that saw the collection of over 100,00,000 toys. He is a veteran of three wars and continues to be active in veterans’ groups to this day.
On the political front, Joe is a former State Senator who then ran for Executive Council in 2014. Amazingly, although he is only one of five members of the Council, Joe’s Council district represents over half of the State’s geography and touches both Maine and Vermont, as well as the Canadian border. It is not an easy district to cover. Yet, Joe makes sure he visits every single town and meets with as many people from these small and scattered communities as possible to make sure that the voice of New Hampshire’s North Country, Lakes, and Valleys are heard in the halls of Concord. In fact, it is hard to mention New Hampshire’s great northern region without his name popping into the conversation.
We are proud of you,Joe, and thank you for everything you do!
Quotes of the Week: Social Animals
“We're highly social animals - I'm told by scientists that what makes us different from other animals is an acute social awareness, which is what has made us so successful.”
“Human beings are social animals; we devote a significant portion of our brain just to dealing with interactions with other humans.”
“At the end of the day, humans are social animals and we are at our best when we get to do things with others who appreciate and enjoy what we enjoy. It's what keeps us human.”
“A healthy social life is found only when, in the mirror of each soul, the whole community finds its reflection, and when, in the whole community, the virtue of each one is living.”
“Some people are inherently likeable. If you're not - work on it. It may even improve your social life.”