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KellyGram – Class of 2020

 

 

There is a special place in my heart for the 2020 graduating seniors across the country and especially here in South Carolina. This pandemic has altered one of the most fun and formative times of their lives—their senior year—as well as that joyous moment of walking across the stage at graduation. (Believe it or not, I can still remember my own high school graduation! LOL!) Their “new normal” is not what the Class of 2020 ever dreamed of or expected, but I hope that graduation day can still be as meaningful as possible for our seniors, whether it’s through a virtual or physically-distanced ceremony.

I particularly want to salute Gilbert High School 2020 graduate Kristi Brown, the daughter of our long-time legal administrator Amanda Swearingen. I have literally known Kristi since the day she was born, and I consider her to be part of the Mike Kelly Law Group family. She’s a brilliant and absolutely delightful young woman, and we have been honored to have her share her talents working at the office from time to time. There’s no doubt that a successful future awaits her!

Congratulations Kristi and the Class of 2020! Enjoy your day in the spotlight—you’ve earned it!

Have a great weekend!

 

Mike Kelly

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KellyGram – An AVID Discussion!

 

 

On Tuesday, I had the unique opportunity of partaking in a virtual interview with a group of 13-year-old students in the AVID (Achievement Via Individual Determination) elective course at Carolina Springs Middle School. Their teacher, William Knopf, is an excellent coach, mentor, and educator. His class is designed to help students overcome life’s obstacles and achieve academic and professional success. I was honored to participate in the program by sharing with the students about my own childhood and public school experiences, my undergraduate studies, and how I gravitated towards the practice of law.

Without boring you with all the details, neither of my parents had the privilege of getting a college education, and it was actually my neighbor—a small-town practitioner in my southern Virginia hometown—who inspired me to become a lawyer. In the interview, I explained the path I took from there to where I am today: my strengths and weaknesses as a student, my academic track to earn a law degree, and the challenges and rewards that have come with 43 wonderful years of practicing law in South Carolina. I sincerely hope I gave these students some good advice and shed some light on what it takes to be a lawyer, although I’m sure I took away much more from this interview than I gave! All in all, it was an awesome experience!

Have a great weekend!

 

Mike Kelly

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KellyGram – Know Thy Neighbor

 

 

For years now, I’ve followed the Episcopal daily devotional book Forward Day by Day, and I was inspired to write this week’s KellyGram after reading Wednesday’s meditation on what it means, quite literally, to “love your neighbor as yourself.” Many of us don’t take the time to get to know our neighbors, yet there are many reasons why neighborly relationships are invaluable. The author of this passage participated in a program through his church that focused on what it means to be neighborly and challenged participants to make an intentional effort to connect with their actual neighbors. The devotional encouraged Forward Day by Day readers to do the same, starting with learning our neighbors’ names.

I live in a small enclave of about 25 homes and am fortunate to know my immediate neighbors very well. I am sorry to report, however, that I’ve done a poor job of getting out and meeting some of the neighborhood’s newer residents. Clearly, COVID is somewhat of a limiting factor when it comes to meeting new people right now, but I’m going to take this devotional to heart and work on building relationships with my neighbors in the coming months. I invite you to do so also, and reap the rewards of knowing thy neighbor!

 

Mike Kelly

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KellyGram – Mother’s Day 2020

 

 

This Sunday is Mother’s Day, and it will almost certainly be like no other we’ve experienced! Even though social distancing may change the way we celebrate or even prevent us from visiting our mothers face-to-face, it doesn’t make this wonderful holiday any less significant!

Of all of the many people who have influenced my life for the better, the two pictured below—my mother and granny—are at the top of the list. Every good thing one might have to say about Mike Kelly most likely originated and was nurtured by these two fine women! Even though they have been gone for some time, I still think of my mother and grandmother daily—and especially on Mother’s Day!

Our mothers are precious, so don’t forget to cyber-hug yours (or her memory) this Sunday. Thanks be to God for the mothers of the world!

Have a blessed Mother’s Day Weekend!

 

Mike Kelly

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KellyGram – Social(ly) Distancing

 

 

Events in my life over the past week have reminded me of how vastly important it is to stay connected to the people in our lives, particularly during trying times like those we’re currently experiencing. Human connection is a critical component to maintaining our overall physical and mental wellbeing, and for many, realizing just how substantial a role others play in our lives only became apparent when physical distancing left us starved for connection.

Those of us who live with our families or with roommates are fortunate to have been able to maintain regular human contact over the past six weeks, but lately, I’ve been concerned for my loved ones who are living alone. I can only imagine how isolating that must feel, and it has left me thinking of ways to help ease their feelings of loneliness despite being physically alone. And so, I’ve put together a few creative ways that I’ve seen people socially distancing that I’d like to share in this week’s KellyGram:

  1. Virtual Get-Togethers: Zoom is a video-conferencing software that has been widely used by businesses (even before COVID-19) to organize face-to-face meetings with employees working across the country or from home. But instead of a business meeting, why not organize a virtual happy hour or friendly gathering? It’s even a great way to throw a birthday party, and allows you to invite out-of-town friends who otherwise wouldn’t be able to make it!
  2. Netflix Parties: Netflix launched a Google Chrome extension called Netflix Party that allows you to play videos in sync with your friends on their devices and chat while you enjoy a movie or your favorite show together…but remotely. So pop some popcorn this weekend and settle in for a virtual movie night!
  3. Picnics: While the Governor’s home or work order doesn’t allow for social visits with friends, it does permit visiting with family members. That said, we certainly want to play it safe when visiting family, and a great way to do this is by hosting a back-yard picnic. This can be done safely by arranging seating at a six-foot distance and by encouraging everyone to bring their own food and beverages. Or, if you’re friendly with your neighbors, why not have a picnic together, but in your separate yards?
  4. Good Old-Fashioned Phone Calls: Technology has certainly helped us find new and creative ways to stay social at a distance, but sometimes, all we need is a good old-fashioned phone call. This is the easiest way to stay connected with those you care about and to check in on those who may be feeling particularly isolated at this time. Taking five minutes to remind someone that you’re thinking of them could make a significant difference in that person’s life—and yours!

No matter how you choose to stay connected, it’s important to not let physical distancing interfere with important relationships. Now, more than ever, we need the support of our friends and family, to share a good laugh with a loved one, and to be reminded that we’re all in this together.

Stay well,

 

Mike Kelly

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KellyGram – To Reopen or Not to Reopen?

 

 

To open or not to reopen? That is THE question that has been at the forefront of our minds this week after Governor McMaster relaxed some of the restrictions that have been in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19. For the first time in what seems like an eternity, there’s been a glimmer of hope that our normal lives may be restored in the not-so-distant future. But South Carolinians are divided on the issue of whether it’s too soon to begin reopening our state, and naturally so. I, for one, am eager to return to my usual lifestyle; I’m a social person, and I simply can’t wait to be able to see my friends and family again with regularity. I want to get back to the gym and go eat at my favorite haunts (my cooking skills have improved slightly during the home or work order, but not by very much LOL!), and perhaps most importantly, I need a haircut! But even greater than my desire for normalcy is my desire to avoid more deaths or the second wave of COVID-19 in our state and in our country.

I do not envy our local, state, and national leaders as they make monumentally important decisions about how and when to reopen society. Being a true leader has never been more important; if ever there was a time to set aside partisanship, it’s now. We are dealing with a life-and-death situation, and these decisions should be governed by science, with deference to the epidemiologists and health care experts. My thoughts and prayers are with our leaders to make wise, and indeed courageous, decisions in these unprecedented times, and I trust that those decisions will be made with our best interest in mind. In the meantime, we must all continue to proceed carefully and take proper precautions to do our part to end the pandemic.

Stay well,

 

Mike Kelly

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KellyGram – Finding Gratitude

 

 

Everyone, including myself, has been struggling emotionally with physical distancing during this seemingly never-ending COVID-19 pandemic. Our wellness routines have been interrupted by closures of gyms and recreational facilities. Our emotional wellbeing is waning as we continue to be cut off from our friends and loved ones and deprived of daily human connection that we often take for granted. I consider myself extremely lucky to still be hard at work, but I miss the face-to-face interactions with my clients, which are now invariably done through phone calls and emails. I could go on and on about the inconvenience of physical distancing and the mental toll it has had on my life, let alone the hardship it has brought down on our society overall.

However, as we find ourselves with extra time alone with our thoughts, ruminating over worries and fears outside of our control does not serve us. So I’ve decided to reverse course and redirect my focus toward the things for which I’m grateful. I’ll start with the big considerations: I have a job that I love and which gives me purpose; I am blessed with a wonderful family and great friends; my basic daily needs are being met; and I have a strong faith and uplifting church community. These are the constants in my life where I can find gratitude, and in many respects, physical distancing has made me even more thankful for them.

But we can also find gratitude in the precious moments that each day has to offer, ones we may normally take for granted, and doing so brings bits of joy into this unsettling time. For example, since the pandemic started, I have noticed far more people spending time outdoors, and Columbia has been blessed with particularly beautiful spring weather to enjoy. I feel gratitude for the courageous men and women working to make sure society is safe and our needs are met—everyone from our healthcare workers to our warehouse workers, our public servants and cleaning professionals, our farmers and grocers, our delivery drivers and postal workers. I’m thankful to live in a time where, despite the limitations of physical distancing, we are able to easily maintain social connections and see one another with technology like FaceTime and Zoom. The list is endless.

I can honestly say I do not know anyone who is not having a difficult time coping and adapting to the changes we’ve faced over the past six weeks. But practicing gratitude, at least for me, has kept my spirits up and my thoughts hopeful. I would encourage you to take a time out to do the same—try writing down three things you’re grateful for in the morning when you wake up and before you go to bed at night, or each time you wash your hands, spend those 20 seconds reflecting on something that brings you joy. You’ll find that you walk away with a fuller heart and a better outlook as we endure this crisis together.

Have a blessed weekend,

 

Mike Kelly

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KellyGram – A Most Unusual Easter

 

 

Holy Week has long been my favorite time of year and is an especially active time of worship at my beloved St. Martin’s-in-the-Fields Episcopal Church. This year, however, while Holy Week has lost none of its religious significance, I’ve greatly missed the fellowship that it usually entails as we all adhere to the social distancing guidelines and recent “Home or Work” order issued by the Governor. Although the order does not prohibit South Carolinians from attending religious services, many churches, like St. Martin’s, have moved their services online for the safety of the congregation. I agree that this adaptation is in the best interest of the population, but it certainly has made the observance of Holy Week in 2020 even more sobering than usual. Likewise, I suspect that Sunday will be the most unusual Easter celebration modern Christianity has ever seen.

Nevertheless, Sunday is still Easter, and for those who follow the way of the cross, the meaning of this day remains the same. For me, this year’s Holy Week and Easter celebration will perhaps be even more significant and life-changing than they’ve been in years past. Though I don’t try to force my religious views on others, I’ve always been very open about them, and the self-isolating and social distancing, in one respect, has provided me an opportunity to spend more time reflecting on my faith. Theoretically, we as Christians are supposed to live our lives following in the steps of Jesus Christ, and while I can’t speak for others, I, for one, fail miserably at this every single day. Still, I strive each day to be a better man than the day before, and I do believe that, through God’s grace, others can see glimpses of His light in me. And on Sunday, I will rejoice in the resurrection of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and know that even though I’m far from perfect, he has gifted me salvation and eternal life. How blessed I am live to celebrate another Easter Sunday!

Have a great Easter holiday, and remember that, even if you must celebrate this year in isolation, you will not be alone, for He will be with you!

Have a blessed weekend,

 

Mike Kelly

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KellyGram – Small Businesses & Social Distancing

 

 

Suffice it to say, the COVID-19 pandemic has devastated small businesses across America, and as a small business owner myself, I count every day that my doors remain open as a blessing. But the tragic reality is that I’m among the lucky few, and so I want to devote this week’s KellyGram to a brief discussion about relief that may be available to business owners struggling to stay afloat in this strange time of social distancing and isolation.

Many small business owners, when purchasing insurance coverage for their company, opt for a policy that includes business interruption insurance. This form of coverages provides protection to businesses that have suffered revenue losses as the result of a covered disaster or peril. Although the availability of business interruption benefits is, of course, dependent upon the terms of a business’s individual policy, I strongly encourage my fellow small business owners to review their insurance contracts to determine whether they may qualify for this relief.

That said, there is a growing discussion that business interruption claims relating to the COVID-19 pandemic are being largely denied by insurance companies, and in some instances, those denials are improper under the terms of the respective insurance policy. I cannot recommend enough that business owners who’ve been denied business interruption coverage during this time of crisis consult a lawyer to review their policy and vigorously challenge the denial if possible. Mike Kelly Law Group’s litigation team is well-versed in handling bad-faith insurance denials and will review your claim at no charge. Just give us a call at (803) 726-0123. Times are tough, but as ever, we’re here for the people (and businesses!) of South Carolina.

Stay well,

 

Mike Kelly

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KellyGram: My Church & The Pandemic

 

 

As I’ve done many times since the birth of the KellyGram, I must once again give a shout-out to my beloved church, St. Martin’s-in-the-Fields Episcopal, for its outstanding leadership and commitment to its members. For people of many religious backgrounds, traditional worship has been turned upside-down by the COVID-19 pandemic, and it’s in these times of crisis that we lean most heavily on our faith. Fortunately, the staff and clergy of St. Martin’s have done an exceptional job responding and adapting to the limitations that social distancing has imposed on the congregation, and with the help of technology, they continue to share the Good News.

For starters, the newest addition to our clergy, the Rev. Deacon Caitlyn Darnell, was ordained last Thursday as our transitional deacon; in order to allow the congregation to join in her ceremony safely, St. Martin’s live-streamed the ordination on Facebook. Sunday worship services are also streaming live each week and being posted to the church’s Youtube channel. They’re sharing daily devotionals online and have added a new web feature—Grace Notes—where members can share moments of goodness and gratitude in the midst of this nightmarish pandemic. One of my favorite, recent posts is this meditation Caitlyn conducts on Psalm 23. I applaud the efforts of St. Martin’s to stay devoted to its mission and keep the faith alive and strong in its congregation during these unusual times, and I look forward to what message my church has to send each day. Right now, we must find respite where we can, and for me, I’ve found it in St. Martin’s. I hope each and every one of you find yours, too.

Stay well,

 

Mike Kelly

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