Mayor Craig Morgan writes a monthly column for the Round Rock Leader.
It’s hard to believe that just one month ago, school was in session, spring break was around the corner and life was business as usual.
Now, the days blur together from news conference to news conference, and the weeks feel like months. Such is life in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
At the City of Round Rock, we’ve had to make tough decisions to protect the health of our citizens while balancing the need to continue doing business and keep our community moving forward in the right direction. The City’s business is essential — from our first responders and the employees who keep our water running, to those who ensure roads are being built and development doesn’t stall.
And as we all know, medical personnel, restaurateurs, grocery store employees and so many others have stepped up to meet our community’s needs in this uncertain time.
Our community has largely remained calm through this storm and, while we might have grabbed an extra pack of toilet paper from the grocery store just in case it’s not there the next time, we have not allowed ourselves to be driven or taken over by fear and panic.
For those of us involved in essential services, the worry is always there — we wonder if we’ve come into contact with someone with COVID-19, and if we are bringing it into our homes. I urge you, for the sake of those working hard to keep our community safe and functioning, to continue to follow the orders and guidelines being administered at the state and federal level to help slow the spread of this virus to avoid overburdening our systems.
It pains me to think that things might never quite be the same. So many of our neighbors have lost jobs, and our businesses have suffered losses that will be difficult to overcome. Our schools have had to adjust to new circumstances, and our local restaurants and grocery stores have changed their way of doing business to meet our community’s needs.
As I drive through our downtown on my way to City Hall, I still feel a sense of shock at how empty the streets are. This virus is a stark reminder the only constant in life is change, and the future isn’t always quite what we pictured it to be.
The good news is this — we have the power to decide how we enter this new normal, and all signs point to Round Rock responding in the only way we know how, which is to help our fellow neighbor.
I find hope in a new initiative we’ve created for small local businesses called Round Rock Cares. To establish this fund, the City of Round Rock, the Greater Round Rock Community Foundation, the Round Rock Chamber and Dell Technologies each donated $25,000. Our total raised to date, as of the end of the week of March 29, was approximately $150,000.
We were fortunate to have Nyle Maxwell, chairman of the Greater Round Rock Community Foundation, and his wife, Nancy, match the first $10,000 of donations dollar for dollar, and Emerson Automation Systems announced they will match the next $10,000. Our own Round Rock Police Foundation also stepped up to give $1,000.
At the end of last week, we had requests from 140 plus applicants with needs over $900,000. And while that amount may seem like an impossible number, let’s put it into perspective: if half of our residents each gave $30, together we could raise $1.5 million dollars to help meet all the needs of our small businesses.
I encourage you to consider participating by visiting roundrockcares.org.
There are many other ways people in our community are stepping up to take care of each other. Local sewing clubs are making masks for our first responders and medical personnel to use in the field. Round Rock Area Serving Center, Opportunities for Williamson and Burnet Counties and the Round Rock ISD are distributing food to those in need.
Our City departments that offer quality of life services, such as Parks and Recreation, Sports Management and Tourism, and the public Library, have found creative ways to keep our minds and bodies active in this uncertain time, even from inside our homes.
We encourage you to not only stay up to date on information about COVID-19 but see all the ways you can help others at roundrocktexas.gov/coronavirus. Be sure to visit our resources page for an interactive tool to find resources available in Williamson County by ZIP code.
Round Rock helping Round Rock is what we have done for years and we are counting on you to help again and make a difference. We’re in this together, and we will come out stronger than before. That’s who we are as Texans, and that’s the Round Rock way.