About a year ago, I used this space to thank­ the many Central Oregon businesses that stepped up to support St. Charles during the early months of the pandemic. Though some were struggling themselves, they donated food and beverages and services and other goodies, all in an effort to comfort and celebrate the frontline caregivers working so hard to take care of people in such an uncertain environment.

At the time, it felt like we were all going to get through this, together. And we will. But a year later, it also feels like we are in the same boat as we were a year ago. Worse, it feels like we are not all rowing in the same direction anymore.

That is discouraging, but I can assure you that St. Charles’ caregivers are rowing as hard as they ever have. Their strength, determination and dedication to the communities we serve inspires me every single day.

I say all that to say this: Local businesses across Central Oregon are still out there supporting St. Charles, even though the spotlight has moved on. Every week, I am made aware of some generous and thoughtful gesture toward our caregivers from within the local community, and every time I am heartened because I know that our caregivers are heartened as well.

It would be impossible for me to try to name them all, because I would inevitably forget some. Instead, I am just going to name one as an example: As we speak, our longtime local partners at Mid Oregon Credit Union are working with the St. Charles Foundation on a plan to provide meals to many caregivers across several departments. They’re not doing it for attention, or even a thank you. They’re doing it because they are a part of this community, and they know the people working so hard inside our hospitals are their neighbors and friends and relatives. They also know that even something as modest as having dinner already made can feel like a lifeline after a very busy day on the front line of a deadly pandemic.

So thank you, Mid Oregon Credit Union, for your generosity and for caring about our people. And if you are part of a business that has reached out to help at any point over the past 18 months, please know that we appreciate you, too. I am grateful that St. Charles is part of such an incredible and supportive community.

A lot of things have changed over the past year, but one thing remains absolutely true: We will get through this, and it will be easier if we work together than if we’re divided.

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