May 3, 2020

Dear Hope Nation,

Yesterday was a beautiful day to be outside, and today promises more of the same. Please, please, please enjoy the world and all it has to offer—while practicing safe behaviors. We’re starting to see cracks in the eggs we’ve been inside for the last seven weeks. Enjoy letting a bit of the light in.

Today, May 3, 2020, life feels pretty damn good to me. While we prepare for the next steps, it’s great to start stretching our legs and our minds. As you probably know, Governor Sununu announced some major changes two days ago. Stay at Home 2.0 still asks folks to stay home whenever possible, and, when going out, to maintain six feet of social distancing, hand washing and wearing a mask if possible. Those guidelines remain in place until at least May 31. What’s changing, though, is beginning tomorrow hospitals can again offer some elective procedures, campgrounds are open to New Hampshire residents. A week from tomorrow, we’ll see restricted reopenings of golf courses, barbers and hair salons, retail stores and drive-in movie theaters.

The light is starting to shine through, and we should be thankful, but I’d like to once again publicly answer the question I get asked multiple times a day: when will Hope reopen? The answer remains the same: Hope will reopen when it’s safe to reopen, and we’ll know it’s safe when:
–Various government agencies tell us it’s safe. While the federal and state governments get all the press, it’s really the City of Manchester’s Health Department that carries the most weight in our decision. When Mayor Joyce Craig and Anna announce it’s safe for places to reopen, we’ll start considering it.
–We’ve weighed the safety in light of our membership and its health needs.
–We’ve determined how social distancing will affect everything at Hope, from meetings to coaching to card games.
The Hope staff wants to reopen as soon as possible, where “possible” means “safe.”
Harry Truman is my favorite president, and he kept on his desk a sign reading: “The Buck Stops Here.” We all know the term “passing the buck,” meaning not taking responsibility for decisions or actions. I want all members of Hope Nation to know the buck stops with me. Yes, I answer to a board of directors, and many decisions need their approval. Likewise, I seek the counsel of Karla Gallagher and Dave Cote, the other two members of our leadership team. I talk with each Hope staff member, collectively and individually, about decisions. Further, I try to talk with as many Hope members as possible, and am always available to sit down and discuss decisions. This collective process goes into all my major decisions. Really. The good ones belong to the group. The bad ones belong to me. That’s just what I believe.
If you don’t like the slowness of Hope’s reopening, call me (603)361-6266 or write me (keith.howard@recoverynh.org) and we’ll talk. I understand any frustration or anger, and want to hear from you. I am responsible, and you should direct your concerns at me, not at Hope staff members who call you, not at the state, not through social-media broadsides. The buck stops with me. Period.
We’ve got a lot of hard work ahead of us. Please use this day of rest to prepare for those labors—and just to enjoy life. After all,
You matter. I matter. We matter.
Keith

Image may contain: one or more people, people standing, sky, ocean, mountain, outdoor, nature and water