LETTER FROM EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, JEANNINE BECK

MARCH 31, 2020

It wasn’t until March 16th that I began taking COVID-19 seriously. Even then, I was more annoyed with the hype and how I was being personally and professionally inconvenienced than I was concerned for the threat to human life. I am embarrassed to admit it but it’s the truth.  It feels like a lifetime ago that my audacious approach to a global pandemic was one of complacency – each day has felt like a week, and each week like a month.

The events that have unfolded in recent weeks have evoked every emotion in us- shock, fear, confusion, rage, compassion, empathy, and hope. We’ve seen the worst and best of the human spirit from hoarding toilet paper and sanitizer, to launching food pantries and fundraisers to take care of each other! We don’t see social distancing as a joke or inconvenience but as the only way to save the lives of not only our friends and family, but people we’ve never met. For me, it’s been a wake-up call to appreciating people more, practicing gratitude and humility, and putting into practice so much of what I preach.

I am sharing this with you for a couple reasons. First and foremost, I wasn’t going to subject you to another letter/email beginning with “Here at X Company, we care about you and are committed to…”…though, I do enjoy for humor sake, reading the ones from my insurance company, car dealership, and credit card company as they express their concern for my well-being, while reminding me that money is due. More importantly though, I hope we might consider that the pandemic is serving as a “reset” button on our lives. An opportunity to clear out the junk, get back to basics, all with a new and improved mindset. This is not an attempt to dismiss the devastation you’re feeling, or gloss over the challenges we face ahead. We acknowledge how high the stakes are and the gravity in which we are each being effected. However, we can also have hope that all of the turmoil we’re going through won’t be for nothing, but will be the catalyst for change and a better and brighter future for you, your employees, your business, and family.

As a reminder, we have created a webpage dedicated to keeping businesses updated on the latest news, financial resources, and tools related to COVID-19 which can be found on our homepage. We strongly encourage members to look into the CARES ACT stimulus package to see which programs that you and/or your employees qualify. If you are having trouble interpreting, we’ll do our best to connect you with the right resource!  Additionally, we continue to update and maintain the Shop Local Guide including all businesses who are open, closed, and providing curbside service. We are working closely with the City of Maplewood and City of Richmond Heights to ensure that we are maximizing, not duplicating, efforts. We recently held our first virtual networking meeting which was a success, and look forward to our next one on Monday, April 13th at 4:00 p.m. Finally, we have not made a decision on cancelling the Taste of Maplewood Street Festival scheduled for Saturday, May 16th. However, we have identified an alternative date if St. Louis County does not lift the restrictions on community gatherings and that date is Saturday, June 20. We will keep you informed with any decisions made.

As always, we are here to serve you! Please reach out to us with questions and we can assist in connecting you with resources. Also, if you just need to chat- we’re here to listen and can even schedule a quick conference call- just name the time! Thank you all for your support and allowing us the opportunity to support you!

Jeannine Beck
Executive Director
314-781-8588
jbeck@midcountychamber.org