Wednesday, February 24, 2021
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Helping Happy Valley: The Most Important ‘Rally in the Valley’ Ever


I have a very important Thanksgiving message for you and respectfully ask for your attention for a few minutes. I am calling on all residents, Penn State alumni and longtime friends of Happy Valley and Centre County to pull together for a cause that impacts all of us who love this area. I am encouraging all of us to come together to participate in the “Helping Happy Valley” effort.

What is Helping Happy Valley? It’s an important effort to make sure that the Centre County business community gets through this crisis. We are asking you to consider making online gift purchases from your favorite local businesses to ensure the Happy Valley that we all know and love will still be here post-COVID.  

If you hold Happy Valley near and dear to your heart, please buy from local businesses and encourage others to do so as well. Jeff Bezos of Amazon and the Walton Family of Walmart will be just fine. Our local businesses, which add charm and character to our area, need an intentional and deliberate effort on our part right now.

While I am sure some would like to hold a “Rally in the Valley” for our football team right now, we each have a more direct opportunity to personally impact Happy Valley by supporting local businesses. Start by visiting HelpingHappyValley.comThe website includes a list of businesses offering gift cards and gift certificates, access to the digital “Wish Book for Happy Valley,” along with a deeper explanation of the Helping Happy Valley effort. Please take a few minutes to visit the site to support our local businesses.

Helping Happy Valley Live

On Saturday, Dec. 5 the Happy Valley Adventure Bureau Facebook page will present “Helping Happy Valley Live,” a six-hour Facebook Live broadcast from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. that will showcase local businesses offering e-commerce. While Helping Happy Valley Live is a one-time broadcast, our businesses will need support now and after the holidays. At the conclusion of the live broadcast, the program will air on the Facebook pages of various Helping Happy Valley stakeholders.  I also want to stress that it is countywide. Please spread awareness about the program!

Wish Book for Happy Valley

The 2020 “Wish Book for Happy Valley” is a digital catalogue featuring locally made products, shops and boutiques. The Wish Book also will promote gift card purchases from restaurants and shops not offering e-commerce. It will be updated continuously and promoted beyond the holiday season. 

Still Many Reasons to be Thankful This Thanksgiving

While the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted all of us in different ways, there are still many things to be grateful for during this Thanksgiving holiday. You may have to will yourself to focus more on the positives, but it’s essential that you do. Take the time to find a cozy spot to sit down, put on some relaxing music, and make your own “Gratitude List.” Even if you won’t be able to gather in person this Thanksgiving, I encourage all of you to use your technology to connect with as many family and friends as possible. While I constantly remind readers of my column to do an occasional digital detox, I am still thankful for the technology that allows us to see and talk with our extended family and friends, especially given the pandemic.

I think that since I turned 60 in the midst of the pandemic, I actually have more cause to be reflective and to count all my blessings. I realize how fortunate we have been to raise a family in Happy Valley and to be able to take advantage of all that Centre County has to offer.

I am grateful that my three adult children have been home with us since March. Watching everyone interact has made life way more interesting whether we are playing games, watching movies or sports, or just getting on each other’s nerves. Our family room has been turned into an e-sports studio with all three of them playing games virtually with their friends across the country. Watching our boys, who are six years apart in age, get to know one another better has been rewarding and oftentimes humorous. Our youngest son, Ryan, having another adult male to look up to in his big brother, Jonathon, has been invaluable.

I am thankful that both my parents are still alive at 88 and 83, in relatively good health and have avoided the virus. I am thankful that our extended family has been able to get together both in person and virtually and that all have remained healthy.

We are so fortunate to have good friends who are healthy and willing to venture out (while practicing proper COVID protocols) to support local restaurants helping to keep the local economy going. We are grateful that we have friends that are willing to get together and walk, bike and hike Musser Gap, Shingletown Gap, Tussey Mountain, Fisherman’s Paradise, Scotia Range, the Pennsylvania Military Museum and, of course, Mount Nittany.

I am grateful for my former Penn State hockey players and teammates that I have reconnected with and now stay in touch with more often. I am grateful to be able to still mentor and coach students and clients who genuinely want to improve their personal and professional lives. Even if it’s mostly by Zoom. I am thankful for people who think differently than me.  How boring would life be if everyone thought exactly the same way about everything? I am still grateful that we live in the greatest country in the history of the world, despite our faults.

Yes, there have been challenges, but we are healthy and safe and have spent part of the lockdowns going through old photos, memorabilia and keepsakes. Many have brought smiles to our faces and, at times, tears to our eyes. It has given us a chance to step back and rethink what really matters to us and what we want for our future. Suddenly losing a sports contest doesn’t matter as much as the fact that they found a way to keep playing whether it’s youth, high school, college or pro contests.

Personally, the pandemic has given me a chance to pause to start exploring what we really want out of our “golden years” and realizing it has a lot less to do with accumulating “stuff” and a lot more to creating experiences and memories. It’s also taught me a lot more about what’s worth getting worked up over and what really doesn’t matter.

Regardless of any differences, I want to thank you all for having impacted my life and allowing me the opportunity to learn and expand my horizons. I feel truly blessed to be a part of such an amazing community.  I wish you all a healthy and Happy Thanksgiving.

Please remember to visit and be an active participant in the most important Rally in the Valley, ever!