The Village of Lawrence prides itself on being a community of free spirited, accomplished individuals committed to excellence and serving a wide variety of educational, professional, religious, social, political and philanthropic institutions.
To be shut in and shut down; to be threatened by a seemingly, unbeatable and deadly foe; to be bereft of extended family, friends and colleagues; and to be banished from the houses of loved ones and houses of worship was, for the village, an unprecedented challenge that struck at its very being.
Yet, in the face of the coronavirus, the residents and employees of our village responded with courage, patience, ingenuity and an ongoing commitment to one another.
Communication between relatives continued, communal educational and religious programs were maintained, the elderly were cared for, and the isolated were encouraged, while the bereaved were comforted and the stricken nurtured.
Citizens supported first responders, local merchants accommodated loyal shoppers and a hospital/medical facility was created, designed and built on site by generous, unselfish neighbors facilitated by a village government eager to help in so noble an effort.
Village staff stayed on the job, each one an essential, devoted public servant making certain that services were not just rendered, but performed with professionalism and energy.
The Lawrence Yacht & Country Club, the gem of our community, refused to surrender its luster as, despite State imposed limitations, it provided through golf, tennis and boating, recreational outlets for a stressed population.
In a time that has thrown everything and everyone off balance, the struggle for Lawrence and the folks who live here, has been to balance and coordinate individual rights with public concerns; devotion to personal religious practice with the health and well-being of other co-religionists; acts of conscience with communal responsibility; celebrating family events while considering possible consequences to friends and neighbors; seeking to exercise personal freedom while complying with state regulations; and bolstering local businesses midst an ever-changing set of rules and regulations.
Lawrence has sought to restore that balance through well-reasoned enforcement of all safety and security measures coupled with a sensitivity to the trauma and anxiety that so many are feeling.
We have been in constant contact with local medical experts and religious leaders to keep residents informed of issues relating to body and soul and have procured the supplies and equipment necessary to ensure same.
Staff has repeatedly met with town, county, state and federal authorities to guarantee that the village and our merchants and professionals receive the full benefit of recovery relief, and to make certain that we reopen our business district rapidly and responsibly.
Issues not related to the virus, but still of urgency to our residents such as roadwork, water quality and the status of our water treatment property and the disposition of the Woodmere Club have not been ignored.
The business of government, the people’s business, has continued even as we grieve with those who have sustained the loss of loved ones and empathize with those suffering either economic pressure or anxiety over this massive disruption.
And that is the lesson learned and demonstrated by the village as it confronts Covid-19: that in facing a crisis, a community and its leaders must react with both feeling and action; it must face harsh reality, but with a sensitive approach; it must acknowledge both needs and wants; and must be involved, but not intrusive.
A community and its leaders must simultaneously be responsive to immediate issues (large and small) while planning for the future with optimism and confidence.
Let’s all be assured that with all these difficulties, this too shall come to pass, and within the next few weeks we hope to reach the first stage of opening and thereafter move on to full recovery. The Village of Lawrence is here to assist in any way it can so please do not hesitate to call.
Inspired by, and grateful to the many wonderful folks who have sustained us, the village, drawing on the strength and talents of its citizens, will emerge from this critical moment even more committed to serving its residents, revitalizing its businesses and adjusting to any new normal, with enthusiasm, strength and energy for the benefit of all.