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Mar 19 / Nancy

To College Students and Youth Wherever You Are:

I wanted to take a moment to reach out and see how you are doing these days. This time of the Coronavirus pandemic must be some combination of confusing, frustrating, or maybe even scary for you. The disruption of having your school, sports, music, theater, and social pursuits and interests restricted or put on hold completely for an uncertain amount of time has to be difficult to deal with.

My guess is that this is likely the worst large scale crisis you have ever been through in your lives. And I have no intention of being dishonest with you. I have spent the vast majority of my professional career working closely with college, high school and middle school students as a teacher, coach, administrator and counselor, and my experience has been that young people like you generally have pretty good “BS Detection” skills. So I will not test those skills by telling you this will end quickly, that few people will suffer, or that there will not be any long-term effects. I will also not be dishonest with you by saying you won’t experience any of those long-term effects. The truth is that I don’t know. No one does right now.

But none of that means you won’t be OK, or that there is nothing you can do to make things better for yourselves and others. Because the other thing I know about people your age from all those years working with you, especially during other times of crisis, is that you are smart, creative, kind, and much stronger and more resilient than you are given credit for at times.

So use those gifts now. My guess is you are already supporting each other through social media. If you are – keep going. If you aren’t – start. And look for ways to support others you may not have thought of or normally interact with who could really use a lift right now, even if you can’t do it face to face. Those who live alone or who are homeless. Veterans. Students in other countries who are going through the same thing you are. I am sure you can think of many other people and ways I have not, and you certainly have far better social media skills than I do to make some good things happen out there.

Remember – while we do not have a medical vaccine for the virus yet, we DO have some social, emotional, and mental vaccines for things like loneliness, discouragement and the struggle to find hope. One of those is social interaction, even if not in person. Another is service for the benefit of others. And another is spiritual support.

So whether you have had any involvement or contact with our church community or me before, or any spiritual community at all, please know that you can contact me at any time for any reason. I will be here to listen, offer guidance, pray, or whatever you feel you might need.

And even though you are among the groups at lesser risk, the data is now clear that you are not completely immune. So PLEASE be smart like I know you are and follow the guidelines issued by medical experts so that you stay healthy, and also so that you can do right by your families, friends and all of us.

You can reach me at any time by email at mark.fpchurch@gmail.com, or by phone or text at 908-477-5426.

Peace,

Mark

Mark Boyea

Minister

First Parish Church