Ronda Graff

Community Connections

News and views from the McCook Community Foundation Fund


Escaping isolation in the outdoors

Thursday, April 30, 2020

I have had the privilege of being on various Zoom calls with people from across the country as we make our way through these trying times. And one theme continues to emerge on a regular basis: People are turning to the outdoors to deal with this crisis.

When someone is stressed out by yet another conference call, they go out for a walk. When they need the kids to take a break from endless homework, they head to a state park. When they donít have enough frustration in their life, they go fishing or golfing.

Fortunately, we live in an area where there are countless ways to get outside and enjoy nature.

An idea the Nebraska Community Foundation champions is ABCD-thinking or Asset-Based Community Development. In other words, focus on abundance rather than scarcity by using ďwhatís strong to fix whatís wrong.Ē

Just one area where we are strong is that we are blessed with ample opportunities to get outside. Of course, everyoneís ideas are different when it comes to what they enjoy outside.

Some people are making plans to put in a garden, whereas the thought of spending hours this summer pulling weeds makes me want to pull out my hair. On the flip-side, some people canít wrap their head around my desire to spend hours sitting on a rock-hard bicycle seat, peddling just for the fun of it.

And I still canít fully explain the joy of camping, when we have a perfectly good house waiting for us without all the bugs biting us in our sleep and hot dogs dropped into the campfire. But when the Nebraska Games and Parks took away overnight camping earlier this month, many of us were distraught. Thankfully, state parks are scheduled to reopen May 8 and weíll be there with bells on and símore sticks ready.

As for those who say that there is nothing do, they simply arenít trying.

One of my boys took the kayak down the Republican River this week and only had to get out and push off a sandbar three times. Walk around Norris Park - while maintaining safe social distancing - 3 times and youíve got a mile done. Or simply sit in your backyard, enjoying this chance to slow down and take a moment to be thankful for the little things.


If you need a specific reason to get outside, there is the Community Hospital Virtual 5K Wellness Run/Walk. Because of the current situation, there really isnít a race but thanks to the generosity of Community Hospital, there is no cost for the race. The race is pretty simple: Sign up online at republicanriverfitnessseries.com and then complete a 3.1 mile run or walk sometime between now and May 14 at 10 p.m. Participants are asked to submit a picture of their watch or themselves out on the run. We really love the pictures of those taken in front of Community Hospitalís sign or any health care facilityÖagain keeping a safe social distanceÖto show our appreciation for all they are doing during this pandemic.

Of course, the run could be accomplished on a treadmill while binge-watching yet another Netflix show, but this a great time to get outside and enjoy everything Mother Nature has to offer, even the bugs and wind.


Lastly, the McCook Community Foundation Fund granted another $10,000 on Friday toward the McCook Stimulus Spending Program Ö or as it is better known, COVID Cash. There was such tremendous support from the community the first week that the funds ran out in less than four days, which left some people unable to benefit from the program.

But thanks to a quick turn-around by Acme Printing to create additional certificates, COVID Cash is back up and running this week.

With dedicated volunteers from McCook Christian Church, the COVID Cash certificates are available for purchase during the week from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. and 5-7 p.m. in the Norris Alley Office in the Keystone Business Center.

You can also follow the program on Facebook, where a complete list of businesses which are accepting the certificates can be found. The program is a great way to stretch those dollars since $100 is turned into $120 while supporting our local businesses.

And even if you donít have COVID Cash, it is more important than ever to try and shop local during this crisis. Personally, I want as many local restaurants to choose from when this is over, even if all my pants are starting to shrink - or Iím putting on weight - the verdict is still out.

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: