“When something bad happens you have three choices. You can either let it define you, let it destroy you, or you can let it strengthen you.” — Dr. Seuss
At midnight on January 1, none of us could have imagined what 2020 would bring. We started the new year and decade with great promise and expectations for continued success. Few had heard about the novel coronavirus in China, but before the winter was over, our world would be transformed by it.
For me, 2020 began with new responsibilities as the incoming president of the Toluca Lake Chamber of Commerce. I had no idea that during the first few months, our local small businesses and our entire community would face the greatest challenge of our lives.
Our government officials have made tough decisions based on the recommendations of their science and medical teams. In late March, the California governor and Los Angeles mayor began the Safer at Home mandate and closed all nonessential businesses. Our community strongly supports these efforts, but we also know that doing so takes great sacrifice from all of us. However, it’s through hard work and sacrifice that we will achieve success.
As the crisis developed, I worked with the other community leaders, including Toluca Lake Beautification Partners chair Ryan Altoon, Toluca Lake Garden Club president Dana Boyd and immediate past president Robyn Allyn, Chamber of Commerce vice president Shannon Hartman and many others. Individually and collectively, we are striving to connect our community and help people cope with the crisis.
At the Chamber of Commerce, we knew that small businesses would be deeply impacted by the Safer at Home mandate. Shannon suggested that the Chamber offer all small businesses in the community a free membership so they can promote their business and access critical information that can help them survive. As a result, current Chamber memberships have been extended, expired memberships have been renewed and all small business owners in the greater Toluca Lake area can join for free. We are also sending regular emails with updates from local establishments on their new hours of operation and special offers, as well as business advice and recommendations. In addition, the new Toluca Lake app provides members of the Chamber and the Homeowners Association with discounts from participating businesses. We hope that all of these efforts and offers will help people during this challenging time.
As a martial arts instructor, I’ve always taught people that the best way to win a fight is not to be in one. We must be vigilant and prepared for battle, but we should avoid trouble if possible. The greatest weapon we have is our mind, and we can find ways to resolve a conflict if we look for the solution. Furthermore, our attitude will directly impact our chances of success, so it’s critical that we maintain a positive outlook and believe that we will win. Lastly, when we are in the crucial moment of survival, we need to use our skills, intelligence and courage to fight for our lives. We have the opportunity to approach the coronavirus crisis with a martial artist’s mindset. We start with avoiding the virus and taking intelligent steps to minimize our chances of getting and spreading it: Stay at home, wash your hands, use social distancing and limit nonessential activities. The science and medical community is working hard to find a vaccine and treatments that will help us overcome this disease. During the Safer at Home mandate announcement, Mayor Garcetti said that “each one of us is a first responder in this case.” It’s true. We are all the heroes of this story, and together, we will win.
What will be the final outcome of the crisis? I’m confident that it will end in victory for the human race. We have defeated every virus in history, and we will overcome the coronavirus as well. However, it won’t be quick and easy. It will take time, and it will test our resolve.
In the end, we can and will achieve victory. Hopefully, when it’s over, we will look back at this time as a revelation of our true character. Perhaps the experience will transform our community and make us more careful and caring — more careful with our own health and the health and safety of our community, and more caring about our families, our friends and our neighbors.
When my friend Mark Deitch, the publisher of Toluca Lake Magazine, contacted me to ask that I write an article for this issue, I knew that we needed to harness the voice of the Village. We reached out to local leaders, business owners and residents to ask how they’re doing and collect their messages to the community. We are honored to share their stories, with the goal of helping our neighborhood overcome this crisis and find a bridge to a better tomorrow.
The following residents generously shared their stories with us. Learn how they’ve been navigating the situation and staying connected with our community:
We checked in with a sampling of neighborhood institutions to learn how they’re adapting and innovating to meet unprecedented challenges as they serve the community: