Chairman's Message: Overcoming Obstacles: 2020 & Beyond

Words: Paul Oldham

Paul Oldham, MCAA Chairman

  It is December of 2020, and if we were to summarize this year I wouldn’t know where to begin or end. We all have seen more ups and downs than we ever could have imagined but hopefully, we all have weathered this storm. The reality of the situation is we all have to learn to live with the “new normal,” because nothing is going to extinguish this pandemic from our lives, much like many other things that we have to live with.  "You can fear it, but you shouldn't," was some advice given to me by a very smart young man. This year we celebrated our daughter Paige’s 18th birthday and this statement got me thinking. She was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes at the age of 9, and at that moment in our lives, we were faced with a whole new challenge. Our daughter had a disease...one that she would live with every moment for the rest of her life. At any point, this disease could take her life. She asked us, "can I not do things now, such as play softball?" Our first answer to her was, “of course you can do what you still want,” but in the back of our minds we had to understand what life would be like from now on.   Long story short, we as parents decided we could live in fear of her disease and hide in the house or we could understand it and let her live the life she should. She continued to develop over the years to be a very respected, responsible, and successful young woman that we are very proud of. Then came 2020 and the pandemic. Once again, we had a decision to make since she falls into the high-risk category. Do we hide her in the house? Again we decided not to. During the 2020 pandemic, Paige has grown even more. We have continued to travel to different states and cities, which allowed her to play the sport that she loves (almost every weekend since June). Paige finished her CNA training with her internship at a nursing home in July and passed her state certification test soon after that. She got her first job this summer at Dunkin’® and can fill her time in between school, CNA training, helping with her brothers, volunteering, and softball with working. She is a straight-A student and taking college classes in preparation to become a nursing student in the next year.  How about that...someone with a true disease that is in the high-risk category feels confident and responsible enough with the situation while risking their own lives to help others and to make a career of it. She is not the only one. If people only knew how many of our health care workers have underlying conditions that they have learned to live with, but continue to help others they would be amazed. Through a lot of hard work both academically and athletically, Paige will continue on next year with her nursing studies and a college softball career at the University of St. Francis in Fort Wayne, Indiana. I can’t state how proud we are of Paige. We could have lived in fear these past years, especially this year, but then she would have never experienced what she has or developed into the amazing young woman she is today.  Back to the young man's statement, "You can fear it, but you shouldn't.”  There are millions of people like Paige that live with true diseases. They didn't do anything to get the disease, but they also don't live in fear of it but live bigger than life. As Paige says "I am greater than my lows and highs," which is something we all can learn from. It was announced that the 2021 World of Concrete is June 7th-10th instead of the originally planned February dates. I know many of us are looking forward to the opportunity to get away during the winter months to network and learn with our industry, so at the end of October, the MCAA announced that we are adding an event called Masonry Strong Live. This is a live social event that will take place in February 2021 on Flordia’s Captiva Island. Located just outside Fort Myers past Sanibel Island, you will fly into Fort Myers airport (RSW), and then from there, it is just under an hour’s drive. This happens to be where Lisa and I spent our honeymoon, many moons ago. The island is very “Old World Florida,” and there are two resorts on the island. The South Seas Island Resort is the larger of the two resorts and is where we will be holding our meetings, as well as Masonry Strong Live.  Captiva has a small downtown area with shops and restaurants including The Mucky Duck and Bubble Room, which we thought were very unique eateries. Todd and I are working on golf plans, along with the rest of the MCAA staff on all aspects of the event. If you have not registered yet,  Lisa and I encourage you to, and we hope to see you in February.  Our family wishes everyone a safe and Merry Christmas, and we look forward to seeing everyone in Florida! 
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