About four days into sheltering-in-place, I noticed that my husband was starting to feel a bit down. Since he was the only other adult in our household, I couldn’t lose him to despair. Not this soon. So, I asked him if he could share with me what was going through his mind. Like many of us, he was overwhelmed by the state of the world – an escalating global pandemic, shepherding a congregation as their only pastor, how to care for our two young children, sad that our families are so far away, and having to make what felt like a thousand decisions in the face of so much uncertainty.
We’ve had plenty conversations go awry in the past, so my first response was, “Do you just want me to listen or do you want my help?” I asked this is because default is to jump into Fix-It mode. And I know that that is not always the most helpful mode to be in. Thankfully, he was willing to hear what Fix-It mode had to offer. So I pulled out one of my most favorite tools: Let’s Make a List! I almost always feel better when I can put everything down in the form of a list. It gives me perspective, a sense of control, and a tangle path forward.
I know this church, and I know there are lots of Fix-It-ers (Fixers?) in this congregation, so I made us a list! And I know some of you can already cross off a few of the items I’ve listed below. (And doesn’t it feel good to cross something off the list?) These are just a few ideas that I’ve gathered with the help of your suggestions and inspiration. If you have any additional ideas, volunteer opportunities, or want to share a personal story of how you have found a way to share hope and encouragement during this time, please let me know!
- Donate Blood & Plasma
Help keep the community blood banks of North Texas supplied by donating blood. Appointments are available through http://www.carterbloodcare.org and https://www.utsouthwestern.edu/covid-19/about-virus-donate-plasma/
- Coordinate Meals for Workers
There are workers going above and beyond during this challenging time -- grocery store staff, janitors, homeless shelter coordinators, first responders, mental healthcare providers, foster parents and more. Consider how you can encourage and feed those who are on the frontlines (and behind the scenes).
One neighbor created a Meal Train that is now feeding a medical team at Baylor University Medical Center (Read about this story here: https://www.nbcdfw.com/news/coronavirus/local-nurses-and-doctors-receive-free-meals-thanks-to-donations/2339183/)
The Thanks-Giving Foundation is using its platform to coordinate the opportunity to provide meals to healthcare workers across our hospitals.
- In-Kind Donations
Medical equipment and supplies can be donated through Dallas County, https://www.dallascounty.org/covid-19/ways-to-help.php, as well as Parkland Hospital. For Parkland, contact
Nonprofits providing shelter and care for children and youth need supplies to keep them busy -- puzzles, video and board games, books, movies, arts & craft kits, and Magna-tiles and Legos.
Promise House, a Dallas nonprofit welcoming homeless children and teens have put together a list here: https://www.amazon.com/hz/wishlist/ls/KTGJZ7BV78VN/ref=cm_go_nav_hz
Hope Supply Co. has seen an increase of 300% in requests for critical need items for babies and children experiencing homelessness. Help provide diapers and wipes to our most vulnerable: https://www.amazon.com/hz/wishlist/ls/3KZXGDFAIDQ5M?ref_=wl_share&fbclid=IwAR3vWPt3p2gDUZkztV6DNKv6noHoZdD6xrmHM780rnXMTcJG68cNq2ZZkds
- Foster or Adopt a Pet
All of this time staying home makes this a great opportunity to help alleviate the stress our local animal shelters are facing. The added bonus is that our pets end up also helping us, too. According to the National Institutes of Health, “Pets may also decrease stress, improve heart health, and even help children with their emotional and social skills.” The need is so great, you can now Adopt and Foster through tele-conference: https://dallascityhall.com/departments/dallas-animal-services/Pages/COVID-19-Operations.aspx
- Plant a Garden
With our retail grocery stores working overtime to maintain safety protocol and keep their shelves stocked, perhaps this is a good time to learn how to own basil, squash, or kale (and support your local nursery). If gardening doesn’t quite fit your schedule, try reaching out to a local farm and participate in their CSA (Community-Supported Agriculture) program so that farm fresh produce gets to your table directly. https://www.localharvest.org/dallas-tx
- Support Local Businesses
Many local businesses are adapting their services to stay in business and keep staff employed. These include restaurants, photographers, plant nurseries, breweries, gyms & workout studios, musicians, auto repair shops, and more. Take a drive around your neighborhood, and look for those Mom & Pop stores that could use your patronage. For more ideas, check out: https://www.wfaa.com/article/money/business/coronavirus-closures-list-local-businesses-shop-dallas-fort-worth/287-f9b63381-1768-49b6-a3fa-b761becef22e
- Receipt Tithing
The Dallas chapter of the interfaith group Daughters of Abraham are encouraging people to make a donation of 10% or more of your grocery purchase to support those who are experiencing food insecurity during this time. Donate your gift to the North Texas Food Bank (https://ntfb.org), the Tarrant Area Food Bank (https://tafb.org) or your local emergency food bank.
- Venmo a Friend
Surprise and treat a friend with a few dollars through Venmo or with a small gift card to your favorite local coffee shop. In this time of isolation, small gifts to overwhelmed parents, tired teachers, lonely neighbors, cash-strapped young adults, your friend who is an ER nurse, or to anyone you know who might be feeling anxious (aren’t we all?) can be a ray of light in their day! #venmoitforward
Please see the list of community partners on our website to learn more about volunteer opportunities and their needs during this time.
One final note: Please find ways to help others if you feel called to do so and you have the resources to do so. I know there seems to be a race to use this time for ultimate productivity and sometimes it feels nice to be a hero. But for many of us, this may be a season for Sabbath, even if it’s not by choice. If in this time you need to care for yourself, please do so. And if in this time, you are in need of care, please reach out and let us know.
Until we meet again, my hope and prayer is that as you discover new ways of loving and living in this world, may God accompany you with abiding comfort in the midst of chaos.
Rev. Kathy Lee-Cornell