Our economy, possessing great fundamentals, went from hitting on all cylinders and going 120 mph to being crushed — all within a few weeks. More than 35 million people in the United States of America have lost their jobs during the pandemic.

More than 100,000 of the lost jobs were right here in Cobb County. To put that into perspective with a visual, imagine this: if there were 100,000 people standing in line six feet apart, with proper social distancing, the line would stretch from Marietta to Macon. Please take a moment to visualize that. Leaving Marietta and driving at 50 mph, one would be passing by that line of neighbors all the way down I-75 for two hours. I’m not saying all of those in line need financial help or food, and some of the job losses may be temporary. But, I do believe there’s a genuine need because many of the lost jobs were at the lower end of the economic ladder. Few have financial reserves, and may be isolated without a support system, and may be holding onto hope, and possibly life itself, with a slippery grip.

Recently there was an article in the “Wall Street Journal” titled “Nonprofits Face a Bleak Future as Revenue Dries Up Amid Coronavirus.” To borrow a line from that article, it says, “the virus related disruption is an unprecedented calamity for nonprofits.” In Cobb, only those who have become involved understand the scope of what our nonprofit organizations do, as well as the constant struggle to meet the needs presented. Most of what they do is done quietly and usually goes beyond just offering a free meal.

Last week, our County Board of Commissioners, under the leadership of Chairman Mike Boyce, wisely approved a financial grant to help provide food to those in need. Thank you, Chairman Boyce and Commissioners Birrell, Cupid, and Ott for voicing your support and voting to approve this grant. It will allow the community to focus more attention upon higher needs related to the heart and spirit of those staggered

by the losses of recent weeks. The quality of life here in our community is better because our charitable organizations exist.

Without a healthy nonprofit community bringing infrastructure and the volunteers they recruit, I believe many in need would end up on the doorsteps of our county government. I believe it’s wise for governments to outsource to the community complex missions that the community can do better.

Nonprofits exist all over our county and they address difficult, community wide human needs. The issues range from early childhood education to homelessness, the disease of addiction, lack of self-sufficiency and job skills, and beyond. Finding the resources to meet the needs has always been difficult but recently the

overwhelming need has outstripped the funds available. Some fundraisers have been canceled, many steady donors are unable to maintain contributions, and business sponsors are focused upon the essential funding of their businesses.

The good news is that the story is not over. It’s continuing to be written today. Our Governor, Brian Kemp, took a refreshingly appropriate step when he indicated he was not concerned about politics and was focused upon Georgians being able to safely get back to work, pay their mortgage, and put food on their table. If there is hope for the future, there is power for today.

The desire to have freedom and to make a better life and grow is baked into the DNA of Americans. Our great country has had scary times before. Our ancestors prospered after the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918 which took the lives of 675,000 Americans. They then dug out of the Great Depression, suffered through the

loss of 407,000 American lives in World War II, and came back to develop decades of relative calm and prosperity. We will get through COVID 19 and we will retool and rebuild. That’s what we do.

In the meantime, many among us are suffering. The pain is all across the landscape. Some are concerned about groceries for next week, about cash for overdue rent, or working from home wondering if their job is going to last. Others had big dreams and now it seems they are back to square one. Some wonder if life is

really worth living, and tragically, some loved ones have lost their lives to the virus.

The Cobb community has a long history of rising to special needs and big opportunities. We have the opportunity now to show compassion, give hope and love our neighbors.

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Gary Bottoms, CLU, ChFC is the Chief Executive Officer of The Bottoms Group, LLC in Marietta