Community Outreach Manufacturing Cares

COVID Overload

Make a Positive Difference Today 

By John W. Kennedy Ph.D 
Chief Executive Officer, New Jersey Manufacturing Extension Program, Inc.

This weekend I got tired of watching the shows that make some sense to me. The ones that focus on engineering, building things, cars, and history. I have viewed them repeatedly and just gave up. I have long since tired of the dramas and thrillers that are focused on the best way to get away with murder. The Sitcoms that like to project so many adults and parents as idiots. Not to mention the reality shows who’s only reality is how to treat others poorly. 

I don’t consider myself a prude, always loved the Action Flicks that had real stunts and car chases, but I’m worried that I am moving in that direction.  

Therefore, I decided to watch a few of the entertainment shows put together by performers of all genres with many celebrities famous for being famous, media personalities, and business icons. I was very thankful for them telling me things that I never knew before… 

  • Our Families are really important to us as human beings 
  • The places we call homes are refuges from the daily grind 
  • That we need to take care of people that need more help than ourselves 

How about… 

  • That Science Matters 
  • That we’re all in this together – stay at home 
  • All children are being well-educated at home 
  • That these last 9 months are unprecedented in history and that these are the most difficult times to grow up in for children 

The first (3) are ‘no brainer’s…have we not all lived by these mantras most of our lives? Do we need celebrities in huge homes with pools and tennis courts, on a beach, or at a mountain retreat to tell us that our families, our homes, and those in need are important to us? 

As for the other (4) – let me address them through my own perspective: 

  • As an Engineer – Science does matter to me. However, most Scientists will tell you that Science evolves as the data sets grow. What applied 6-months ago may not apply today. The more we know…the better. I don’t want to sound glib at all, as we’ve lost too many good people during this time, but I am glad to see the number of cases increase at a higher rate than the severe ones and the deaths. To me this means that eventually a vaccine and herd immunity we will get us to the other side of this crisis. 
  • We’re not all in this together, because we all come from different places in life. Those that can afford to stay home do so…others need to go to work. Some of those listed as ‘Essential’ have to go to work…regardless. Medical Staffs, 1st Responders, Manufacturers, Military, Food Store Employees, and many more – go quietly to work to keep us safe, cared for, and fed.  
  •  My son is 30 now, and to be honest, I’m glad that he did not have to ‘learn’ through this pandemic. This is not a negative indictment of Schools or Teachers, but having listened to so many parents, I am concerned about the loss of a year+ of anyone’s education. Not all of us learn the same way. Not all of us have the same access to computers and Internet. Not all of us have parents that can augment teaching or be at home with us every day.  

How long will it take our children to recover from all this? Educationally & Mentally? None of us know. 

  • I’ve heard this last one often over the past year and ask that each of us stop and look back (just a little) in the history of our Country. The Civil War, Great Depression, WW II (about 60 million civilians were killed worldwide), all appear to me to be more impactful than 2020 on many levels.  

Yep, it stinks that weddings, proms, and other rights of passages were altered or cancelled, but maybe this will force people to find other reasons to connect in the future. I myself have missed several funerals for people close to me, but it also taught me to cherish the present to ensure that I remember them properly and that other great memories get created. 

I sometimes wonder why we focus on one thing and not others…about 500,000 people die in the US from smoking related illnesses…about 70,000 from drug overdoses…about 50,000 suicides…every year. Where is the sense of urgency? 

The one that bothers me the most – 9 million people in the world die every year from hunger or hunger-related illnesses – 3.1 million are children. Yes, COVID is horrible, but I believe it, will be something we can overcome. Why not hunger? 

So, instead of dwelling on all the negativity and the craziness that exists on far too many levels…I am going to take more time and support the feeding of our neighbors and their children during this time and in the future. Over the past 7-years the NJMEP ‘Manufacturing Cares’ Annual Food Drive has provided over 600,000 meals, but that just isn’t enough. 

A $5 dollar gift to the Community Foodbank of NJ, Fulfill, or one of the other great foodbanks or soup kitchens in our area, means 15 meals. Maybe one less latte this week. If your company can offer some product or collect items to donate…very cool. 

As I grow older, I tend to channel my Mom’s words almost daily, and one of her favorites was to tell me each morning to “Make a Positive Difference Today”. That’s what I’m going to do for the remainder of 2020. One less something each day will add up to quite a few meals for someone in need. 

If you can’t find the right place to donate to support our neighbors try the ‘Manufacturing Cares’ food drive online – 

Have a nice Thanksgiving… 

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