When I wrote my first blog on this time of social distancing one of the things I discussed was the feeling of being hopeless while there was so much going on.
The healthcare workers, first responders and all of the support staff at our hospitals, clinics, police stations, fire stations, government offices, etc. are all working triple time to keep us safe and healthy, often at great risk to themselves and their families.
While most businesses are closed, grocery stores and drug stores are still open for essentials and that means those staff members are working and exposing themselves to the public. Many restaurants are closed, but some are still open for delivery, so those kitchen staff and delivery drivers are keeping us fed.
Factory workers, truck drivers, trash collectors, postal employees and more are still working to keep us fed and supplied.
What about the rest of us? Just being labeled “nonessential” itself could be taking a strain on your emotional health. I am sitting at home. I am technically teleworking, but there is little to nothing that I can actually do from home for my job. I think I am working about 2 hours a week right now. While, I personally, have seen this time as a gift and have been using it to exercise, write, read, cook and post about all of it here, some people are really struggling with their sense of worth. It is very easy to get weighed down by the gravity of what is going on and feel like there is something more one could or should be doing.
I often find when I am struggling emotionally, and feel like things outside of my control are taking over my life, I try to regain some control where I can. In different moments, this can take on different forms, but in times of crisis when I am not on the front-lines (which I never have been), I try to give time, money or goods.
If you are working or not working right now, but getting paid, can you afford to donate money?
If you are not working now, and not getting paid, can you give time?
Either way, can you give goods?
I am fully aware that some of you, whether working or not, have kids at home, and you are trying to figure out home-schooling. That is a huge undertaking! I cannot even imagine what it would have been like if we three kids had been in the house all day with my mother’s likely VERY STRICT home school agenda, and my restless father crawling the walls from boredom driving her crazy. COVID would not have been our greatest threat!
So is there a lesson in this for your kids? This will vary wildly by age and maturity, but can you turn this into a lesson about economics without causing them stress? Can you give them the job of researching local nonprofits who might need help? Can you discuss budgeting for charitable giving? Is their an opportunity for them to donate their own time?
I have done some research and will give you some ideas, but every state, city and community will have unique opportunities, so take some inspiration and see what you can do.
For my part, I am teaching yoga for a donation. I am no longer teaching as a part of my income as I have in the past. In January, I started a free weekly class at my place of employment. Someone suggested that I teach my Wednesday evening class live on-line. Brilliant, I can do that! And then I decided to use this as an opportunity to help and give other people the chance to help with their wallets. I am teaching for free, but asking for an optional donation. I will be giving half the money to GenYouth, who is raising money to keep feeding kids that rely on school meals. The other half I will give to a local organization that I am a part of that works with under-served kids. In the first four days, I raised $370! I am now teaching two live classes on Mondays and Wednesdays on Facebook Live, and not only do I have people from my community tuning in, but previous clients, old friends, work colleagues and family from other countries and time zones are joining. My fourth grade teacher was on this week! It lets us all share our energy together, and we can all feel like we are doing a small thing to help kids in need.
This has helped me and others in specific ways:
- I get a focused practice two times a week and keep my teaching skills up, plus I add to my YouTube channel each week.
- Yoga can be an important way to deal with stress and anxiety. My Wednesday class is beginner and focuses on slower movements and breath work.
- Yoga can also be great exercise. My Monday class is a strenuous workout meant to build muscle, but it is also still designed to reduce stress and relax you.
- People from all over are able to tune in and get a yoga practice for free while feeling connected to others. For some, this was their first time trying yoga.
- Two organizations will get a small boost to their efforts.
There are no deficits that I have identified except for the crazy set up I have to create in order to stream on Instagram, Facebook and record for YouTube!
So what about you? What can you do?
- Health. Clearly, this is a health crisis, what can you do to help in this area.
- Blood donation is something that is always needed, so see if your local American Red Cross is accepting donations now. In fact, if you have had and recovered from COVID, first of all, I am glad to have you with us, but secondly, you can help! The ARC is accepting plasma donations from those who had and recovered from COVID19.
- Most healthcare workers are hard at work already, but maybe you are retired or not working right now and have skills that can be used. The Medical Reserve Corps can use you! Right now, they are working to set-up drive-through testing centers. See how you can help in your area.
- Johns Hopkins has been a continued source of research and information. You can help them continue their work to help prevent future pandemics and mitigate their impact.
- The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation was started when Bill Gates contributed more than half his wealth to it. Warren Buffet and others have given hundreds of millions of dollars and their impact has been huge. They are specifically working on COVID-19, and you can support their work.
- The CDC is recommending face masks, and there are not enough to go around. Are you handy on your sewing machine? Joann Fabric has awesome tutorials and is partnering with local organizations to distribute them, so now you can craft for good!
- Many hospitals operate as nonprofit. Check your local hospitals, and see if you can donate to them.
- Is there a nurse or other healthcare worker in your neighborhood whose family could use a fresh meal? Sometimes the smallest gesture can have the greatest impact!
- Food. Food insecurity is always an issue, but especially now with so many not working. Kids who normally rely on school meals, may or may not be getting them. There are lots of ways you can help!
- I mentioned that I am giving to GenYouth. I saw a story about them on CNN. They are giving cash grants to public schools who are either opening the schools for people to come pick up meals or food to go or they are dropping meals off on the school bus routes.
- Feeding America runs food banks all over the country. You can inquire about donating food, money or time at your local food bank.
- World Central Kitchen founded by celebrity chef, Jose Andres runs food banks and is working at locations in different cities to provide meals to hungry people, healthcare workers and more. Their website has details about the work they are doing and how you can help.
- Check your local community for faith-based organizations and local nonprofits. They almost always need help in the form of hands and money.
- Mental Health. This is a difficult time for all of us, but some are feeling it worse than others. Those already suffering from mental illness such as depression could be more impacted than others. Suicide rates can rise in times of crisis. There may also be increased incidents of domestic violence during this time of staying at home. What can you do?
- Homelessness. The homeless can be especially impacted by this crisis. They often are in close quarters in shelters, have lack of good sanitation, do not have access to healthcare and often suffer from mental illness or addiction.
- The National Coalition for the Homeless has a lot of information on their website on what they are doing and how you can help.
- Entertainment. Sometimes we just need to have fun and relax in times like this, and you can do that while still helping. During his press briefing yesterday, President Trump referred to the money included in the last stimulus package that went to the Kennedy Center as “extraneous nonsense.” If you don’t believe that the arts fall into this category, you can help and enjoy yourself at the same time!
- You can view past performances on the Kennedy Center website and donate to keep the Center open for the future.
- The Avalon Theatre is DC’s only nonprofit theatre. They are working with distributors to offer new releases digitally for just $10. You can support independent film producers, a nonprofit movie theatre and enjoy a film you may otherwise not have seen.
- SOFAR sounds is a great way to see new artists in small venues, which supports the performers. They can’t play live right now, but you can watch for free and donate.
- Broadway is also closed. The Wrap offers a great list of ways you can watch and give to support the arts.
- COVID19 Freelance Artist Resource is trying to help artists keep afloat, and you can donate to them.
- I have heard more than one restaurateur being interviewed suggest that you buy gift cards now to help them weather this storm and then you can use them later. Check out your favorite local coffee shop, bar or restaurant to see if you can do this. Rally for Restaurants can help.
- If your favorite restaurants are open for take-out or delivery, you can support them and the workers that way. We have to eat, right? Have a date night at home or give yourself a break after home schooling. Even if you don’t normally order out, maybe this is a good moment to help take that burden off you and help a local business.
- Reading. I have been doing lot of reading. Sure, you can order books from Amazon, but clearly I am not going to do that!
- Many public libraries offer on-line accounts and you can order digital e-books and audio books. You check them out on-line and they are automatically returned. No late fees! You can reserve anything that is not available and get it when it comes in. Check your local library website to see if you can do this. I realize this isn’t helping anyone, but I wanted to include it!
- Support small book sellers! I just ordered some used books from Better World. They were super inexpensive and I am supporting a small business. Check on line and local resources to see where you may be able to order new and used books.
- Stuff. A lot of us are doing massive cleaning at this time. Some stuff is just trash. No one wants it. THROW IT AWAY. If, however, you have clothes, kitchen supplies, books, furniture, home improvement materials or exercise equipment, you can usually donate it. A lot of the places you can normally donate are likely closed now. Don’t just go dump garbage bags in the Goodwill parking lot. That is helping no one. Do some research and see if any local organizations are still accepting donations. Some do curbside pick-up. Are they doing that now? If so, great. If not, pack up the bags and boxes and hold on to them. They will be needed soon. Some organizations to consider: Goodwill, Salvation Army, Habitat for Humanity, United Way, Furniture Bank, Vietnam Vets of America, and check out any of your own local organizations.
This is clearly only the tip of the iceberg. There are probably hundreds of ways you can help in your community. Check in with the public schools near your house. Can you support in meal service? Check the fire station. Can you bring them a home cooked meal? Check in with your church, synagogue or temple and see what they are doing to help. Talk to your kids and see what would make them feel helpful.
We can’t all be on the front lines, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t help in some way. As a PSA where I live says, “The hero during Corona is you.” If all you can do is stay home, don’t underestimate the impact that sacrifice is having.
I’ll have more coming soon! Check out may latest posts about Coping During Covid-19:
- Coping During COVID-19: An extroverted empath’s thoughts
- Coping During COVID-19: This time is a gift
- Developing a Meditation Practice…trying to anyway
- Starting…and Continuing a Yoga (asana) Practice
- Learning to Breathe Mindfully (Pranayama)
- Walk Like A Yogini: Being Kind and Keeping it Real
- Exercise and other Drugs
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