To the editor:

Owatonna is a community of philanthropic spirit, breadth of culture, and opportunity and diversity of industry and local businesses. At United Way of Steele County, we take our mission to heart: Together, we change lives by mobilizing and optimizing the caring power of our community.

COVID-19 and emergency orders to mitigate it have had significant impact to our community. Changing schedules, processes, perspectives and reactions have affected every citizen of Steele County. Many are confused about the messages they read and hear. People are asking:

• How can I help?

• Is re-opening our local economy safe?

• How can I protect myself and my neighbors?

Thank you for the leadership you provide to this community, without which, we wouldn’t be as vibrant as we are! We believe that a united message will help to clear up confusion and promote community safety and prosperity. Together we can set a strong example, while organically slowing or reducing the spread of the virus by:

• Wearing masks around others. Supporting our local economy is important, as is acknowledging local cases are on the rise. Things are not back to “normal,” and we must continue to model and encourage taking recommended precautions such as wearing masks.

• Expressing sensitivity to how our neighbors and friends are dealing with this. For example, “We respect your opinion,” “Let’s do the hard work together" and “Let’s take care of one another, especially those most at risk.”

• Sharing a consistent message. The United Way of Steele County and you, our trusted community leaders, must ask; “How are we protecting our neighbors?”, “How are we leading by example?” and “What have we learned that could be shared with our community?”

We appreciate you and the work you are doing. Will you join us in continuing to wear masks and encourage others to do so? We are turning to you with optimism that Steele County residents can continue to work together and rely on one another during this incredibly difficult time.

We would love the opportunity to partner with you in this safety campaign and post pictures on our website of you rocking your favorite mask. We look forward to additional dialogue on this topic. We can be reached at 507-455-1180 or via email at uwadmin@unitedwaysteelecounty.org.

United Way of Steele County Executive Board

Dave Albrecht, Jane Rolloff, Shane Sattler, Rachel Peterson, Faizal Lakha, Jeff Elstad and Stephanie Olson

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