Some of you know that my wife and I have two children, both toddlers. Our kids have been with us this last year through hurricanes and ice storms and everything else. After a year of togetherness, our kids (and, honestly, Mom and Dad even more so) are more than ready to get out and enjoy the spring with friends and family.

We are all eager to get out and get re-connect, but our kids and many in our family and community aren’t fully vaccinated yet. There’s a lot of negotiation and planning in our house of just when the right time will be, and what comes next. Given that two of the parties at the negotiating table are under five, it’s been tough going.

On a related note, I’ve seen a couple of LSU AgCenter videos and stories floating down my social media walls about people wanting to get out and trim back bushes and trees after the recent winter storm. Their yards are dead, it’s warming up – time to cut! But the experts are saying we have to wait just a little longer.

After the challenges we’ve all been through, suffice it to say we’re all anxious to turn the page.

The need for a fresh start is so very human, particularly after long periods of uncertainty and fear. Often, we know exactly when a bad thing started, so we also want and need to know when it ends. We need an anchor point of clean demarcation to say, “This is when it stopped and I started over.” Whether it’s tangible or just psychological, we want that moment.

And yet, like so much of this last year, that point likely won’t be neat and clean. Things are looking up, but we have to figure out how to turn the page, thoughtfully and at the right moment.

Many of our neighbors will continue to need resources and support to be able to turn the page. There are still are millions out of work, without access to enough food, healthcare or childcare. Millions more are working, but can’t make ends meet. And systemic injustices are real and far too common for those already facing the big challenges. There are many people for whom the trauma of the last year will last for quite some time.

Louisiana, like many other places, has a way to go on systemic issues of healthcare, education and equity. But one thing I know is that hardships and disaster have taught us the patience necessary for resilience and recovery. We don’t pull up stakes as soon as the worst of it is over – Louisianians have the grit and determination to hang in there and make sure the work of recovery gets done.

I know we will find a way in this case too. I know that because I know a lot of that work will depend on so many of you – leaders in communities, in government and in the non-profit sector who guide systems and organizations that are committed to Louisiana. You are doing the work that will make sure everyone has their best shot at moving forward.

I don’t claim to know how to answer exactly when the time is right, or how to move forward in each circumstance. I do know, however, that like so many things, addressing this problem takes thoughtful leadership from those in the work.

As you and your organization are thinking about turning the page and finding the new normal, we continue to offer disaster relief grants and other funding supports. We can also offer you two useful tools that may help if you or your organization are in the midst of figuring out your next steps:

  • Our colleagues in the strategic planning team at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana put together a free strategic planning toolkit that you can use as you evaluate where you are and where you’re going. The strategic planning team is willing to help where they can as consultants for organizations in need. Just send me an email and we will connect you.
  • Our partnership with Taproot Plus means nonprofits and small businesses can access consulting with experts from around the country on issues of business planning, HR, IT marketing and more, all at no cost to you. If you need to talk the next steps over with someone, sign up and request either a one-hour consulting session or, if you’re a nonprofit, get some skilled pro bono help as well.

This last year has been challenging. We are all ready to turn the page and step into a better future – I know I am. As we all figure out how to do so thoughtfully and when the time is right I’ll simple say THANK YOU for all that you do to support so many in our state. If there is anyway we can support you in that journey, know that we are here to help!

Michael Tipton
President, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana Foundation
Head of Community Relations


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