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By OC Board Supervisor Lisa Bartlett
As this year draws to a close, many of us will look back on 2020 as a year that has so far been unlike any other in this 21st century. Personally, I will look back on 2020 as a year when two of the most frequent words I heard were “Zoom meeting”; however, on a more serious note was our country grappling with the effects of a devastating global pandemic, civil unrest and a general election unlike any we’ve ever seen.
Yet, despite the many challenges and uncertainty of the time, there was one thing that gave me hope, comfort and a renewed sense of belonging—the great American spirit! In every corner of every state, and especially here in Orange County, the American spirit was alive and well.
I was humbled to see so many residents in my district, from all walks of life, come together to do what Americans do best—extend a hand of kindness, love, compassion and generosity, regardless of their own personal situations, to show that we are a county that cares!
Thousands of volunteers delivered food to the hungry, blankets for the homeless, and visited seniors at care facilities, albeit from a safe distance, to extend a kind wave, a friendly smile and make sure they were doing well.
Utilizing CARES Act funding, I had the opportunity to provide much-needed financial support to businesses and nonprofits within my district. My office developed the Small Business Grant Program that distributed $14.5 million in grants to more than 1,500 small businesses and nonprofits in South County.
In addition, I wholeheartedly supported the Safe Dine OC program that provided millions of dollars to help restaurants purchase items such as masks, gloves, PPE, cleaning supplies, and perform site modifications so they could reopen safely.
To help our most vulnerable through these difficult times, my office created a Nutrition Gap Program and partnered with 211 Orange County, Second Harvest Food Bank and Ruby’s Diner to provide more than 95,000 food boxes and 80,000 prepared meals to seniors, disabled individuals, veterans and others in need.
For those stricken with COVID-19, Orange County’s finest doctors, nurses, first responders, and thousands of health care providers worked day and night to care for patients, and comforted those who lost a loved one, all at great personal risk to themselves and their families.
Throughout history, and despite our many differences, we have demonstrated repeatedly that there is more that unites us than divides us. Love of family and friends and taking care of others in a time of need is undoubtedly one of our greatest strengths and a quality that unites us all.
With the development and deployment of a vaccine, I am optimistic that it is the beginning of the end for COVID-19, and I have a renewed sense of hope that Orange County will come back healthier and stronger than before.
And so, as we close the book on 2020 and look toward 2021, we look forward to a brighter and better future for all Orange County residents. I want to take this opportunity to thank you for your continued support and to let you know that it is an honor and a privilege to represent and serve you in the Fabulous Fifth District. I wish you and yours joy and goodwill during the Holiday Season and a healthy and prosperous New Year!
Lisa Bartlett sits on the Orange County Board of Supervisors, representing the 5th District. She was reelected in 2018.