With many people isolating at home to benefit public safety, and uncertainty the only certainty these days, it’s been inspiring to see how Rutland County has responded to the Covid-19 pandemic.
From hanging up lights and rainbows to making masks and putting out signs encouraging people to wash their hands, stay one cow apart, and thank medical and other essential workers, local residents have responded to Covid-19 the same way they responded to the Nor’icane and Tropical Storm Irene: With empathy, compassion and positivity.
Reese Stoutes, the 7-year-old who has drawn hundreds of rainbows, and the Rutland Facebook group that aims to “Light up the World” gave hope and purpose to thousands of people. Thousands more are encouraging and educating others by posting I Love Rutland signs from Brandon to Pawlet, and everywhere in between.
As co-founder of I Love Rutland with Awesome Graphics’ Mike Napolitano, I loved his idea to print and distribute the signs. We figured 1,000 would make a big impression, help combat any sense of complacency around safety, give people an opportunity to be part of something meaningful, and share some positive messages with the community they care about.
To say the response was overwhelming would be an understatement. Anonymous donors stepped up to pay for the signs, and Casella Waste Systems quickly delivered a brand-new steel container to hold them. The first 1,000 were claimed within a few hours. The same thing happened with a second printing of 1,000. A third batch lasted slightly longer, but within a few days, those signs were also dotting the front lawns of businesses and homes throughout the county.
Rainbows, Christmas lights, and signs, might seem like small actions given the big challenges we face in the days and months ahead, but they all signal something important in Rutland County residents: Hope, strength, grit, and a positive outlook for the future. Those are attributes we will no doubt need, and are among the reasons I love Rutland.
Steve Costello is a vice president at Green Mountain Power