Over the past couple of weeks, I have been the fortunate recipient of a number of emails, letters, and cards of thanks for the City’s support of various businesses and organizations through COVID-19. These notes of gratitude are associated specifically with the City’s Star City Strong recovery efforts and recovery fund. While I am grateful for these kind words, it is actually I who must offer my thanks.
Thanks to the Elected Officials
I must thank the various elected officials who have made our recovery efforts possible. The President and Congress for the establishment of the CARES Act and its billions of dollars, of which we have been the beneficiary of more than $17 million. The Governor and General Assembly for their transfer of funds received through the CARES Act (which they were not obligated to do) at the maximum amount available to localities, including Roanoke. The Mayor and City Council for their support in the formation of the Star City Strong Recovery Fund Task Force, their hands-on facilitation of virtual focus group meetings and, in the case of the Mayor and Vice-Mayor, chairing of the Task Force meetings.
Thanks to the Task Force Members and Others
I must thank the more than 30 individuals who took time out of their busy and upended days to join us weekly for a couple of hours to review the myriad of funding streams, and associated rules and regulations. Very few missed any of the meetings, and all took their task seriously and committed a great deal of time even beyond the formal meetings. The assistance we have been able to provide is directly due to their thoughtfulness and genuine concern for the future of this community.
I must also acknowledge and thank the members of the Boards and Commissions who have furthered the efforts of the Task Force and ensured the timely delivery of the financial assistance. Without the Economic Development Authority, the Human Services Advisory Board, the Arts Commission, and the School Board, these efforts would be less successful. This is also true of all the City and School Division staff who have supported these efforts.
Thanks to the Community
Most significantly, I must thank the community—its small business owners, nonprofits, arts and culture organizations, artists and performers, teachers, and the many individuals providing and delivering essential services. The ingenuity, perseverance, and grit shown by each of these has been a sight to behold. While no doubt important, the limited financial assistance we have been able to offer pales in comparison to their determination to make it through these very challenging times. I am both in awe at what they have been capable of and genuinely moved that, in the midst of all this, any would take the time to write a note of thanks.
I am reminded nearly every day how Roanoke is such a special and compassionate place. This has been even more so in these last several months, as we have responded to COVID-19 and tried to reconcile the impacts of the inequities present in our community. I am very fortunate to be able to serve as the City Manager of such a wonderful City and for that, I say thanks!
-- Bob Cowell