There’s a lot that you can’t control right now: when businesses reopen, when the frightening graphs we’re shown every day start trending downward, and when you can see your loved ones again. But in the midst of the chaos, there is an opportunity. You can help your community and build up those around you, creating a safer and more welcoming environment when we do return to normal again. Not sure how to help your community right now? These are good ideas to get you started.
Take Care of Those Around You
If you look around your neighborhood, there are likely immunocompromised individuals and seniors who are afraid about getting through each day without coming into contact with COVID-19. For them, going to the grocery store or getting medications could kill them. You can support these individuals without putting yourself at risk. By volunteering to pick up their groceries or prescriptions and leaving them on the front porch, you can maintain social distancing while helping vulnerable people stay out of public life.
Consider Volunteering if You Are Healthy
Lots of organizations that rely on volunteers have been hit hard by COVID-19. People are afraid of coming into contact with others, putting extra strain on outreach programs that already struggled to get enough volunteers. If you are healthy and at low risk of complications from COVID-19, learn more about organizations in your area that are reaching out to those with limited resources. Homeless shelters are in dire need of help during this time, as are animal shelters, meal service charities, food pantries, and clothing drives. Think about any special skills you have that might make you a valuable asset. If you speak a second language, your translating skills could be very useful to those seeking assistance.
Make Face Masks
With the introduction of CDC face mask recommendations, entire sewing communities have come together to make face masks widely available throughout their communities. While people would ideally have access to disposable single-use face masks, that simply isn’t the reality that we live in right now. In the meantime, we have to make do. If you have any sewing skills or a sewing machine at your disposal, the internet is full of tutorials on how to make facemasks. You can start by providing them to local health care workers, grocery store employees, and others who are providing essential services. Branch out by making masks for those who do their family’s errands and grocery shopping, or immunocompromised individuals in your community.
Support the Local Economy
If this stretches out for months, as predicted by many epidemiologists, small businesses are likely to suffer the most. The SBA’s PPP program has already run out of money once and it might happen again. So, with limited government assistance available, it’s up to us as community members to support local businesses. Consider ordering takeout from a local restaurant or getting your Saturday morning sweets from a family-run bakery in your neighborhood. These small actions might not seem like much, but if everyone is committed to helping out the local economy, we can help small businesses ride out this difficult time.
Reach Out to Isolated People
In addition to the physical effects of the coronavirus and the financial effects of the stalled economy, don’t forget about the mental health impact on those who are largely shut out of public life for the foreseeable future. Those going through cancer treatment, who are immunocompromised, and who live in nursing homes are at greatest risk. Reach out to facilities in your area to find out if there are programs to help these individuals stay connected.
Quite a few nursing homes have started up pen pal programs to connect seniors with school-age children. They look forward to receiving drawings and notes from little ones, and little ones get the chance to practice their letter writing skills and build meaningful connections. Whether you find a pen pal, start a vlog to reach out to isolated people in your community, or find another enrichment opportunity, you can trust that your efforts will be appreciated.
Help Essential Workers
With schools closed, many essential workers are struggling to juggle their responsibilities each day. You could offer to buy dinner for a hospital department one night, help essential workers find affordable childcare options during their shifts, or make sure that employees have access to the protective gear they need to stay safe. There are needs in every community; if you start talking to essential workers, you’ll find a need you can fill.
If we use this time wisely, we can come out of the COVID-19 crisis stronger, more connected, and better prepared to face the challenges ahead. The team at Burns, Cunningham, & Mackey, P.C. is committed to supporting local communities. Reach out to us to learn more or ask about our services.