Happy March! I hope this month’s newsletter finds everyone well and looking forward to spring. I have never been a big fan of February, and this year was no exception. Thankfully, March looks much better. Rachel and I are taking our daughters (Ali and Emily) to Hamilton in Chicago to celebrate their birthdays, which are a few weeks apart. During last year’s summer vacation, Alexander Hamilton was along for the trip, as Ali, Emily, and Ali’s cousin, Rosa, sang every word to the musical (loudly) all week long. Watching these young women showcase their knowledge of American’s founders and the birth of our country, and having learned about these fascinating characters in such an extraordinary way was satisfying, and really annoying all at the same time.
Another big thing that is happening for us in March is Emily is going to Washington, D.C., with her 8th grade class for four days. The itinerary for their trip is impressive and includes several sites that I have never been to, so I am thrilled for class, but also envious. I spent quite a bit of time there when I traveled for work, and loved every second. (As opposed to my next assignment in western Iowa…not so much to love there.) I am always struck by the perception most of us have of ‘Washington’, the Capitol: a showcase of ego, pettiness and self-preservation, versus Washington, D.C., the Place, which on a “really cool stuff per square foot” basis, ranks among the best in the world. I had the good fortune of being in D.C. one year over Memorial Day weekend. Flags at half mast, parades, somber ceremonies in Arlington National Cemetery, and veterans on Harleys everywhere you go. An experience I will never forget.
Some of these ponderings about government and leadership have helped me channel my frustration regarding the conflict with the city of Sheboygan and how it played out. My full remarks on the entire situation can be found here: https://sscnonprofit.org/city-council-full-remarks-regarding-landmark-tif.
As I noted in my summary, during the whole experience I found Mayor Mike Vandersteen to engaged and responsive. (As for the other city officials we were trying to work with, I will only say that none of them will ever be mistaken for ‘the Founding Fathers.’) Despite the outcome, I am relieved that the matter is closed and behind us.
In that same summary, I also mentioned that one of the unexpected surprises I have enjoyed since starting here at SSC is that it has allowed me to become actively involved at the Weill Center, including joining their Board of Directors a few months ago. I choose to invest some of my free time there because I love live performances, but also because it allows me to provide access to opportunities that our employees may not always have. For instance, this past weekend, we gave away 60 tickets to several of our employees to see Charlie Berens, from the Manitowoc Minute. (If you don’t know him, look him up on YouTube.) Among the recipients were the five employees who received the most nominations in the Employee Appreciation Contest we ran last week. Congratulations to Joyce Shaffer, Janet Crawford, Ann Smith, Lora Bruns, and Nikita Bell. It is difficult to express the appreciation and gratitude I have for all of the employees who make SSC such a special place. The teamwork, compassion, and dedication we see from employees during every shift and every department is truly inspiring.
(Shameless plug: another reason I enjoy being involved at the Weill Center is it allows for some creative latitude. To that end, please consider joining us on March 24. A band called Joe 2.0. will be recording a concert film that night. Joe 2.0 is led by the original singer of Cheap Trick, Xeno, and uses stringed instruments to cover rock classics (the Beatles, the Who, Led Zeppelin) as well as newer artists. The Joe in Joe 2.0 is Joe Ketchum, a professional violinist, and good friend of mine. It should be a very entertaining evening. See weillcenter.com for more information. End of plug.)
Wrapping up March for my family is Passover, which is early in the calendar this year. Every year, Emily and I join Rachel’s family in St. Louis for the weekend that is highlighted by the Seder Dinner. While I still mangle the prayers and am ever so slowly learning the traditions of Judaism, I do know that I really enjoy being part of the Passover service, which is so unlike anything I ever experienced growing up. Rachel’s brother, Brad, leads the service and spends hours every year preparing the prayer guide. The history and importance of Passover are complex, but the themes are universal: memory, optimism, faith, family, and responsibility. Something our employees bring to our residents and each other every day.