Prosper residents share lessons learned during the pandemic

By Aubrey Turner
For the Prosper Press
A closeup of coronavirus.

It has been a fairly common joke for people to say that they spent their time in the pandemic learning to bake bread.  This joke is based in some truth. In March 2020 it was difficult to find flour in the grocery store.  Yet, baking bread is not the only way that Prosper residents have spent the last year.  Many reevaluated their lives, made changes in career, started new hobbies, or focused on health as their schedules and lives slowed down due to the lockdown.  

Lainie Ereno was working from home in a high stress IT job when the pandemic started.  “It was a time to reevaluate our priorities,” Ereno said.  “I quit my high stress job and pursued another direction and opened my own IT business.  That way I could focus on my younger child’s education while she was at home.” 

“Our family reassesses our schedules about every six months anyhow,” Ereno said.  “But this was different because we had no choice.  What we are trying to teach our children is that life is full of change and you need to be able to accept that and move on.  So we took this as a chance to show our children that.  My daughter took a year off of brick and mortar school and has been homeschooled this year.  That has been such a good thing for her.   We have been able to do more things as a family, and to just focus on what is important.” 

Jason Dollhoff also took advantage of the time at home to spend more time with family.  “My son and I started to take care of lizards, starting at the beginning of lockdown,” Dollhoff said.  “I think that was a good time for my son to start taking care of lizards.  It teaches responsibility.  I did not know much about lizards as well, so it was a way for us to learn about something together.  It is good for children to venture out and learn about something different.  I recommend that parents encourage their children to step out of their comfort zones and to learn something different.  It is tempting to allow our children to sit and play video games, but this has been such an opportunity to take on something new.”  

Sixteen year old Amandalyn Garst focused on health and strength as a way to cope with the lockdown and a subsequent slower schedule during this past year.  “I learned that when life gives you challenges you have to learn to channel that negative energy into something positive,” Garst said. “That is why I picked up weightlifting and began to focus on nutrition.  I realized I wanted to be stronger.  It was a journey: I focused on nutrition, started a bodybuilding routine to build muscle to help with my lacrosse career, and started a crossfit workout routine.  After a few months my body was feeling tired and I was not where I wanted to be energy-wise so I joined a power-lifting team.  After two months on the team, I was able to place 11th in regionals, breaking at least one personal record every meet.”

“ I have more self confidence, developed a sense of resilience, and built a bond with my team, Garst said.  “Overall, I am proud that I was able to take something negative and make a change that will benefit me for the rest of my life.  I have learned so much.  The biggest lesson I have learned is that we are not going to be perfect all of the time.  Nobody is perfect, so we need to aim for hard work and dedication.  I have also learned that we need to have patience.  We will not have immediate results, but if we keep working, we will see the results we want.”  

The We Prosper Together campaign was established to assist local nonprofits and small businesses that have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Tricia Benton-Trail started a new local business during the pandemic.  “Life changed during Covid, and I was not sure how my business would turn out,” Benton-Trail said.  “I own a local spiritwear shop and I was worried that people would not be willing to come into stores.  But I decided to take a leap of faith and I am glad I did.  The “shop local” focus in Prosper is so healthy and that has definitely helped me out.  The Prosper community has done a tremendous job at advertising and sharing local business information, as well as encouraging people to spend dollars here in town.  We are so grateful to the community for spending their money locally.”

“For me, as unfortunate as Covid was in general, it gave me the chance to reflect on what is important,” Benton-Trail said.  “ I really had to decide what was important to me and what I wanted my life to look like, then I had to decide to make that happen.  I am grateful for the time to make my dream become a reality.”