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DETROIT LAKES, Minn. -- When asked how he is coping with the way the extended precautionary measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 have altered his life and livelihood, longtime Detroit Lakes resident Dave Harman will just say he's "hanging in there, like everyone else."

As the director of youth and adult sports programming at the Detroit Lakes Community & Cultural Center, Harman's job has been largely on hold since Gov. Tim Walz's statewide stay-at-home order began weeks ago.

His family life has been affected as well: When the Harmans' twin granddaughters turned 2 last weekend, the family had to celebrate via FaceTime rather than going to visit them in southwest Minnesota.

"It's hard to celebrate that way, but at least we have it (FaceTime) nowadays," he said.

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Rather than focusing on the negatives, Harman has chosen to spend his days focusing on the positives — helping out wherever and whenever he can. Harman's helping hands have been turned to everything from maintaining the DLCCC's facilities and preparing for when they reopen, to mentoring his former crew of youth counselors from when he ran the YMCA's Camp Cormorant — or dressing up as the Easter Bunny to visit the homes of friends and neighbors during Easter weekend.

On Wednesday, April 8, the Harmans posted an inspirational video on Facebook. In it, Dave shared the parable of the old mule who fell into the farmer's well.

As the story goes, the farmer heard the mule "braying," or crying out for help. While he sympathized with the animal, after carefully assessing the situation, the farmer decided that neither the mule nor the well were worth the trouble of saving — so he called together some of his neighbors and enlisted them to help haul dirt into the well, to put the old mule out of his misery.

Dave Harman dressed up as the Easter Bunny on April 12 to help local residents celebrate the holiday, "hopping" from house to house. (Submitted photo)
Dave Harman dressed up as the Easter Bunny on April 12 to help local residents celebrate the holiday, "hopping" from house to house. (Submitted photo)

Initially, the animal was completely hysterical, but as the farmer and his neighbors continued shoveling the dirt into the well and it hit the mule's back, it suddenly dawned on him that every time a shovel load of dirt landed on his back, he should "shake it off and step up."

So that's just what he did — until the dirt was piled high enough for the mule to step out of the well on his own.

"That which seemed likely to bury him, had actually blessed him," Harman said. "All because of the manner in which he handled his adversity. ...

Dave Harman with his wife, Liz, and their grandchildren (from left) Olivia, Brynn and Garret. (Submitted Photo)
Dave Harman with his wife, Liz, and their grandchildren (from left) Olivia, Brynn and Garret. (Submitted Photo)

"So remember that forgiveness, faith, prayer, praise and hope are all excellent ways to 'shake it off and step up' out of the wells in which we find ourselves," he concluded.

Harman's wife, Liz, then ended the video with a song, "Lord Prepare Me To Be a Sanctuary" — because as he pointed out, his wife was a much better singer than he was.

The Harmans have two children, Kevin and Annie, who have started families of their own — Dave also likes to touch base with a variety of other friends and extended family members.

"My big thing is I try to reach out at least every other day to someone I haven’t talk to in a while, just to catch up with them," he said.

And when he's not doing any of that, Harman is trying to think of other ways to spread kindness and caring — such as dressing up as the Easter Bunny.

"We had a nice Easter Bunny costume, so I just bounced around from house to house and visited some people I knew," Harman said. "Anything you can do that's extra nice, I think people appreciate it right now because they're kind of cooped up."