To the Editor:

"It takes a village to raise a child" is a well-known African proverb. However, the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Finger Lakes region has made this ideology more apparent throughout my community.

Around the end of March, and after self-isolating for two weeks in New York City, my partner and I decided to relocate to my childhood home in Clifton Springs.

At the National Center for Disaster Preparedness, my work centers around investigating disaster resiliency in children and communities around the globe, but I never expected to see my work embodied so close to home. Throughout this crisis my community has banded together and supported an Easter basket campaign for those in need, a community-wide chicken BBQ, and a comprehensive and inclusive adopt-a-senior graduation program. Different political parties, religions, and economic brackets have come together to show their support in mitigating the effects of this crisis.

The Midlakes community is facing the same uncertainty as the rest of the world, but these actions prove to me that my community is resilient, and I am proud to be a Midlakes alumnus.

Recently, I graduated from Columbia University with my Master of Public Health degree and am continuing my education at the University of Delaware studying community vulnerability and resilience. Before returning to NYC last week, my mother organized a physically-distant “graduation party”; people were able to drive by and honk, say “hello” and wish me luck on my future adventures. Over the day, I was visited — either by honking or physically at a distance — by family friends from neighboring communities, the local fire department, strangers that happened to be driving by, and even one of my teachers from Head Start.

The outpouring of support was remarkable and personified the work I’ve been doing over the last two years and will continue to do for years to come. I could not have thought of a better way to start this new chapter of my life.

To my friends, thank you. To my family, I love you. To my community, I am in awe of you. It has been an especially remarkable time being a child raised by a village.

ZACKERY WHITE

Clifton Springs

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