Someone, somewhere said you can never go home again. Not true for Stephanie Lerdal.
She first worked at the LDF Country Market as a teenager. She then moved away to Appleton and Oshkosh. After years of living and working off the reservation, she’s back in Lac du Flambeau as an LDF Country Market Operations Manager.
She sees many changes within the community since she left. But she also sees bedrocks of the community remain unchanged.
“Our new, beautiful store offers shoppers a wider variety,” she says. “Shoppers no longer have to go to Minocqua to access a nice selection of items.”
On the flipside of change is consistency, especially when crisis strikes.
“Our Tribe has always helped each other during emergency situations,” she says. “The pandemic has brought this out too. It’s the difference of living here versus somewhere else.”
“When my family returned here, we were impacted by the pandemic and quarantined,” she says. “We had Tribal Members and programs, such as Stacy Stone’s Emergency Services program, reach out to us with a care package and support. You don’t get that other places.”
Being quarantined is not something to be embarrassed about, she says. It’s important to know we are all in this together. Young and old, we all stand a good chance of knowing someone who has the virus or having it ourselves. We all fear the unknown. What we know, however, is we are all part of this community and we are stronger together.
“Our LDF Country Market teammates have really demonstrated togetherness during the pandemic,” she says. “Staffing is difficult with people knowing someone who has been impacted by COVID-19. Staying open has had others working double shifts and working in different departments. Everyone here is really pulling together to make sure the community has access to supplies.”
The pandemic has had people rethinking the upcoming holidays. Smaller gatherings and family staying closer to home to help limit the virus spread are the new normal. But Stephanie sees opportunities for more meaningful, tight-knit connections with immediate family.
“We will make the holidays fun, even if it involves fewer people around the table,” she says. “Home really is where the heart is. With this in mind, we will be with family and loved ones at home and in spirit. You truly can go home again. Wherever we are, we can be home.”