Friendship is one of the great blessings of life. Friends come in many forms and can be found in the unlikeliest of places. While some people are blessed with close friends from childhood or meet their best lifelong friends in college, sometimes the path to a life-changing relationship is less conventional.
A church group joined, a random partner in a bridge game, an accidental seatmate on a plane or train – or an-innocuous seeming nail appointment – can all lead to a beautiful bond.
Today’s page 1 story, “From mentorship to friendship,” tells the story of two unlikely friends. One, Goodwin House Alexandria resident Sandy Connolly, was looking for meaningful volunteer work, while the other, Ngoc Nguyen, her nail technician at the Goodwin House salon, wanted to become a U.S. citizen. They teamed up and accomplished their goal, providing the U.S. with a bright new citizen and the two women with a lasting connection.
The story of Connolly and Nguyen is a reminder to us all that great gifts can come in unlikely packages and from unexpected places. There’s an old saying that people come into our lives for a reason, for a season – or for life. The key to finding these treasures is to be present in the seemingly small moments of our lives. Because you never know who might walk into your nail salon, and then your heart.
The need for preventative care
Another story in today’s Alexandria Times reminds us that the unanticipated consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic continue unabated. By this point, everyone is familiar with the negative effects of the disease itself: the deaths and the debilitation from long-term COVID. Much has also been made of the mental health crisis that came from many people spending the better part of two years in isolation, and the related spike in drug abuse.
The surge in violence and this past year-and-a-half in Alexandria City Public Schools has shown us how much the lost socialization from losing in-person learning for more than a year cost our students, particularly those in middle and high school. A corollary to that violence is the drop in test scores by Alexandria’s public school students relative to the rest of Virginia.
Another unanticipated consequence of the pandemic is the extent to which underlying conditions that were not life-threatening during the pandemic’s peak are now surging, at least partly due to a lack of screening checkups.
As our page 9 story, “Mitigating 2023 health concerns,” points out, chronic diseases such as diabetes and high blood pressure have been either undiagnosed or undertreated in many people during the past almost three years. Concurrently, new conditions such as sexually transmitted infections are going untreated in many people. The sharp surge in syphilis cases was particularly concerning.
While we all need to continue to be vigilant to prevent the spread of COVID-19 itself as much as possible by getting vaccinated and boosted, and by staying home when sick, the need for preventative care is also apparent. Why not go ahead and schedule that long put off, not-so-annual physical?