By Rex Hammock, CEO

Two months ago.

During the night and early morning of March 2-3, tornadoes ripped through Middle Tennessee, killing 25 people and injuring more than 300. More than 70,000 homes lost power in the storm.

Two days later, on March 5, the first case of COVID-19 was confirmed in Tennessee. A week later, on March 12, the NHL suspended its season indefinitely, and then permanently. The SEC men’s basketball tournament, scheduled to take place in Nashville, also was canceled. On March 13, President Trump declared a national emergency. As the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 started to climb, businesses started to close.

State governors began issuing “shelter in place” or “safer at home” orders. On April 13, Tennessee’s governor, Bill Lee, extended a statewide “stay at home” executive order through April 30. It is currently May 7, and many of those reading this email are still at home.

Every day brought new questions. What is essential? Who is essential? Aren’t we all essential? How does an economy go from flourishing to fragile in two months? In one month?

I could go on and on about healthcare emergencies and frontline heroes and write endless essays on what the “new normal” will or won’t be.

In the past two months, we’ve learned so much from our clients, colleagues and even our children. We’ve learned the meaning of “community”—and a community always finds a way to reach out and help. Like today, for instance—the sixth annual “Big Payback,” a one-day event during which Middle Tennessee residents raise money for area nonprofits. As I’m writing this, at 9:30 a.m. on May 7, more than $2 million has already been raised—and I expect that number to go even higher.

I don’t know what our new normal will look like. But it’s times like today that I remember some things don’t change—like communities rallying together to make a difference. That’s one thing about our “old normal” that I, like many other people, will always hold onto.

Thanks for being our old—and new—normal.

Featured Image: Getty Images

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