Written by Greg Stowers, Key Club International director 

COVID-19 or the new coronavirus has caused a seismic shift in our daily routines, most notably our communication and interaction. Throughout the past week, I’ve sat in on more teleconference calls than I’d like to admit, and a short walk is incredibly refreshing when you’ve been at home all day. I recognize this could be worse, so I am grateful to those who have gone above and beyond to emphasize the health and safety of others. The most interesting part in the ever-evolving situation has been the response from people around the world. I’ve seen a visible increase in empathy for others, from food drives to fundraisers worldwide. 

For our Key Club members around the world, specifically those heading into convention season, it’s been difficult week. Having your hard work throughout the year stymied as a result of something outside of your control is disappointing, but this current situation is not indicative of your service year. 

Questions like “What do we do? What’s next? Where do we go from here?” are all valid. As the situation continues to evolve, those questions are difficult to answer, but we will be working with our student leaders to find ways to engage and empower Key Club members. My response has been not only to think about the safety of our membership, but also the impact of these changes on our students as they experience them in real time. 

I’m a millennial, and throughout my lifetime, there have been several societal changes  from moments that will live in infamy to more incremental changes resulting from increased awareness and opportunity. I’m sure my more seasoned peers also can point to specific moments and societal shifts as well. While we’re all experiencing this situation from a variety of angles, for me I’m reminded of the importance of greater awareness, empathy and reflection. 

I hope that our members are aware of the importance of not only their work throughout different communities, but the importance of utilizing their voice. 

I hope we’re able to see a greater sense of empathy as we work to find ways to continue service throughout the world. Key Club’s core values of leadership, character building, caring and inclusiveness are important during times like these. 

I hope that members are taking this time to reflect on not only this service year, but their personal development and growth. 

Change is the only thing that’s for certain, and while many aspects of COVID-19 are outside of our control, our ability to respond thoughtfully sets an example for not only other members, but people around the world. We’re in this together, and I’m thankful for the resolve of our student leaders, advisors and administrators. 

Yours in service, 

Greg Stowers 

Key Club International director