I know that in the last few days and weeks, many of you have found yourselves deep in the messiness of trying to plan and prepare for all the unknowns that come along with COVID-19 and the impact it will have on our communities. Slowing the spread of this virus is of critical and immediate concern. Though there is still much we do not know about this virus, we do know that proper handwashing, sanitization of touch surfaces, and limiting social contact in whatever ways possible will help.
Social distancing is difficult, if not impossible, for many of us. While many of us likely will not contract the virus, the impact will be felt across the globe for the foreseeable future in ways we may never have imagined.
Much of my work is with organizations that serve medically vulnerable and socially marginalized populations. The staff I work the closest with are in regular and direct contact with those who would suffer the most if they were to become ill with the virus. Because of this, I will be suspending participation all in-person meetings, events, and groups occurring in public spaces or spaces frequented by members of the public until at least April 13th. I will provide update in a few weeks, and will remain available to contract for meetings, groups, and projects, via email and online platforms (such as Zoom) throughout this time.
For small businesses and those who depend on groups or events for income, this may be a difficult time. For those who do not have alternative financial support, safe housing, safe caregivers, paid leave, or supportive employers, this will be devastating. For those who are older, have medical needs and/or are immunocompromised, these are potentially deadly times.
If you are able, please consider increasing your financial donations to organizations that serve or respond to:
• Homeless and nearly homeless people
• Victims and survivors of domestic and intimate partner violence, sexual assault, and trafficking (both sex and labor)
• Medically vulnerable populations (including those with special dietary needs and those with compromised immune systems)
• Unemployed and underemployed individuals
• Those without reliable transportation
• Sexual assault reports
• Child and elder abuse and neglect reports
If you are able, please consider increasing your donations of goods such as:
• Fresh foods (fruits and vegetables, nonfrozen/noncanned meats)
• Canned goods (think about donating low sodium and low sugar options whenever possible)
• Grains and dried beans (rice, barley, pinto beans, black beans, garbanzo or chickpeas, etc)
• Dairy (milk, cheese, yogurt, cottage cheese)
• Noodles and bread items (all the noodles and bread, including gluten or wheat free noodles and breads)
• Shoes, socks, and undergarments
• Pens, pencils, crayons, markers, paper, basic art supplies
• Board games, puzzles, and cards
• Hygiene items (shampoo, conditioner, body wash, tampons and pads, lotion, condoms, laundry detergent)
• Antibacterial dish and hand washing soap, hand sanitizers, sanitizing wipes and sprays
• Single use gloves and paper towels
• Basic first aid supplies
• Small herb and veggie container gardens
If you are able, consider increasing your volunteering in low direct contact work for causes or organizations that serve medically vulnerable and socially marginalized populations. Call and ask them how you can best be of service. Call the people you know who are financially secure or have excess finances, and ask them to increase their giving. Call foundations and ask them to do the right thing by the organizations they fund and not withhold funding due to missed objectives directly caused by this virus.
Other ways you might be able to help could include:
• Caring for children whose parents do not have alternative care options, helping to clean and sanitize daycare centers
• Helping to register people to vote and ensuring they are aware of their option to vote by mail (going a step further and ensuring they are able to vote by mail by walking them through the entire process and printing any necessary forms so they can request the ballots by mail)• Holding online AA and NA meetings (Zoom and Skype offer some privacy)
• Calling to check on neighbors and friends with history of addiction for whom these uncertain and stressful times can be a trigger for use
• Going live on social media to offer words of encouragement for those with trauma histories for whom isolation is extremely difficult
• Helping churches and small businesses maximize their non-direct presence (simple websites, learning to use online tools, being the camera for live services, etc)
• Leading conference call or livestream book clubs
• Giving funds or goods directly to those who are unable to make ends meet as a direct result of precautions (think about restaurant employees, event staff, and custodians)• Calling elected officials and reminding them who they work for, asking them to do what is within their power to ensure those with limited resources are not further stressed or harmed by efforts to slow the spread of this virus.
Limiting the impact of COVID-19 will require a community response, and we must take that seriously. We are only as healthy as those most susceptible to illness, only as visible as the least seen, and only as strong as those who have the most need. Give grace in excess, and support in all the ways you are able.
And as always, take good care friends.
Inspirational Speaker, Author, Resilience Coach, & Anti-Trafficking Consultant
Founding Member of Thriving Warrior
www.Facebook.com/AThrivingWarriorOrder Rachel’s latest publication “It Takes Work: Burning Out, Recovering, and Beginning to Grow” available now on Amazon.