I have never felt more a member of my community than now, when none of us can get together. Last week I posted a question on our community Facebook page. I have a diagnosis that puts me in a risk group, meaning I should avoid going out to stores. I asked if there were any grocery stores delivering to our area after my own searches for Instacart offered no options. I was hoping to find an alternative more self-reliant than taking our marvelous offspring up on their offer to do our shopping. That day and for days afterwards I got responses, amazing responses, to my FB question. These included nearby churches with volunteers willing to do shopping for others. Even individual people messaged me with offers to do my shopping. I felt tearful with gratitude. I’m used to providing help, not receiving it. I turned everyone down with appreciation but was still overwhelmed by the unexpected kindness.
In this time of surreal, unexpected, and frankly terrifying upheaval due to Covid-19 my small community and surrounding area blooms with kindness. People are making and donating masks; finding new ways to support local businesses; checking in on neighbors; offering toys, games, books, and other items for free; writing encouraging messages in brightly colored chalk on sidewalks; offering free rooms for healthcare workers; and much more. When people ask for specific help they’re answered quickly, usually with many offers.
Crisis invariably brings out the best in people. The true core of humanity is cooperation. We could not have evolved to this time without the collaborative genius that brought about language, healing arts, shared care for the vulnerable, and creative space for true innovation. We are who we are because we pull together. We can get through this too.
Ways to help
Reach out to one another, particularly to those who live alone or have special needs. Ask not only how you might help them, but remember the reciprocal benefits of asking for their help. You might ask others for their advice or expertise on a situation you’re facing. Your older neighbor could have useful experience training a puppy or handling a grumpy teen. Your great-aunt could likely tell you what to make for dinner out of the few items in your fridge or answer a question you’ve had about genealogy. Or ask if they mind a short visit on the phone to brighten your spirits!
Volunteer at a safe social distance through local houses of worship, organizations, and neighborhood groups. Meals-on-Wheels is often looking for volunteers, and such drop-offs can be done quickly.
Thank essential workers: those who work in grocery stores, gas stations, nursing homes, and hospitals, food production, utilities, maintenance, police, fire, EMS, and everyone else who faces daily risks to keep our communities functioning.
Patronize local businesses and remember to tip generously.
Donate to local food banks.
Adopt or foster a shelter animal. Dogs and cats need homes now more than ever. And don’t forget to make plans for your own animals should you become sick.
Blood donations are critically needed. Find out where to donate by going to American Red Cross (Blood Drives) or calling 800-733-2767
Make masks to donate or share with others. This is a tutorial for making a simple mask, with ties fashioned from knit fabric (even t-shirts). This is a more in-depth tutorial with several options, all using a pipe cleaner to hold it more closely to the wearer’s nose. They aren’t recommended for healthcare workers, but community use.
Talk to others going through what you are. Quarantine Chat lets you talk to people anywhere in the world. (I’ve talked to people in Spain and Canada as well as many U.S. states so far.)
I’ve found discussing our unique experiences of life in lockdown with friends in other states and countries has been really helpful. Friends in the UK have given me a heads-up on what life is likely to hold under an even greater degree of restriction than we have here, and to prepare accordingly; they are several weeks ahead of us in the passage of the illness. My sister in France lives on 35 acres, and offers her empty land for friends without backyards to come and exercise with their animals, one or two at a time. I have left flowers on the doorstep of a local nurse…
Yes, conversations with people elsewhere truly helps. And flowers on a nurse’s doorstep — beautiful!