Vaunita Martin Mug

Vaunita Martin

Itawamba County has been a shining light during this unprecedented time for our country.

Inspiring meetings with county officials – with our superintendent, mayors, representatives from the board of supervisors, boards of aldermen, emergency management, police departments, and fire departments – have fostered a united front, a willingness to work together to ensure the safety of our citizens from this illness and restore normalcy as soon as possible. There’s abounding optimism in our institutions, and that people will take care of one another and grow stronger because of our present struggles.

The success and long-term health of our business community remains a top priority for all concerned. Our county’s leadership team seeks to assist them during this time and praises their efforts for voluntarily helping to curb the spread of coronavirus. Our restaurants quickly adopted policies to protect their patrons, quickly setting up curbside and to-go services. Many boutiques temporarily closed their storefronts, but then adjusted their business models to allow for scheduled personal shopping appointments to limit the amount of customers in their stores, promotions through Facebook Live shopping, and robust offerings online with free shipping or curbside pickup. Some businesses simply closed their lobbies but offered drive through and curbside options by using text messaging, phone calls, and social media. Itawamba County’s business community joined to collectively market its goods and services by offering 10% off purchases by shopping at multiple participating businesses. A customer simply has to present or direct message a receipt from one participating business to receive the discount from another. Our local businesses teamed up quickly and voluntarily to assist one another, and this spirit of cooperation will lead to greater successes once this coronavirus outbreak joins the pages of history.

The only comparison to what we are experiencing today for my generation is 9/11. It was a day where time seemed to stand still, everything seemed so unreal, and we were all fearful of what would happen next. As a result, the nation came together. We were all drawn closer together, churches grew like never before, and people were helping people. It was a time that changed us forever. My hope is that we will become stronger because of our current turmoil. That we will grow in a new direction, while forever keeping in mind that we need God and our communities to survive. The end of the day we need God and our communities in order to survive.

That may seem very simplistic, but after all we’ve been through over the last week, isn’t that what we are all craving? A simpler way of life, doing what counts and making your life meaningful to someone else! I challenge every Itawamba citizen to do something for someone else, shop with our local homegrown businesses because they need us more than ever before, and take this time with your family to enjoy the simple things. It will not be time wasted but time reinvested for years to come.

Vaunita Martin is the executive director of the Itawamba County Development Council. She can be contacted at vmartin@itawambams.com

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