Gazing out my dining room window, I spot one yellow daffodil peeking from the soil. There is a bend in the stem, but soon it will stand tall. Over time more daffodils, and other flowers will join, maybe at a distance first, but eventually there will be a bed of flora, all shapes, sizes and colors, showcasing beauty, emitting an enchanting fragrance — a symbol of grace.
These are difficult times. We are separated from loved ones, missing special moments, worried for our collective future.
And yet, human kindness and ingenuity persist. The neighbor picking up prescriptions for others, families ordering take-out so small businesses can survive; sewers making masks to donate to hospitals. Teachers pivoting so kids can continue their education. Mighty healthcare workers and first responders putting their lives at risk every minute.
I watch it all unfold on my phone and TV screen, and I am awed, anxious, grateful.
As a longtime consultant to philanthropists, corporations, nonprofits, and family foundations, I frequently counsel on appropriate responses to disasters and crises. I’m often asked, even amid the more routine daily work of our nonprofit community, “Individuals feel so helpless, what can we advise them to do?”
I’ve been thinking about this. Yes, we’re worried, but we’re also, each of us, resourceful. We can do something. Many of us can do several things. And in the doing, we stay hopeful.
Here are 10 easy and impactful ways you can do your part:
- Advocate. Whether your usual cause is domestic violence or the arts, continue to advocate all through the Covid-19 crisis. Your voice matters to people and organizations now at even greater risk. Call your local congressman, stay involved, use your voice.
- Buy local. Order curbside pick-up from restaurants. Gift certificates from small boutiques make good birthday at-a-distance gifts. https://www.tapinto.net/towns/westfield/sections/food-and-drink/articles/these-westfield-restaurants-are-delivering-during-the-coronavirus-pandemic
- Deploy tech skills. Are you an IT guru? Naturally savvy with technology? A social media expert? Nonprofits, teachers, students, and small businesses are scrambling to deliver virtual services. Let them know you can help.
- Donate food. Food insecurity spikes during times of economic uncertainty. Find a local pantry, school system, or social service agency that’s still collecting and distributing to those in need. Or give to hunger campaigns at grocery stores like Kings Food Markets benefiting Community Food Bank of NJ. www.cfbnj.org
- Give blood, plasma. The American Red Cross needs donations during this pandemic, especially since many blood drives are canceled. Healthy individuals can still donate; make an appointment. A Covid-19 survivor? Many hospitals and blood banks are mobilizing to collect, distribute and study plasma and antibodies. www.redcross.org
- Make a call. Isolation is tough for all, but those who were already alone, these times can be unbearable. Call a senior who lives on their own. Call someone whose immune system is compromised. Call a loved one with a disability.
- Provide masks. If you sew, start making masks for healthcare workers in need of personal protective equipment. If you can’t sew, check if you have extra masks or plastic goggles from your last construction or painting project.
- Support with your wallet. Many wonderful funds have been set up to put your dollars to good work, including the We Love Local fund https://www.westfieldnj.gov/welovelocal — whether supporting local businesses, nonprofits responding to the pandemic or initiatives to help healthcare workers and first responders, monetary donations can go a long way. However, please be careful of any scams trying to profit from the pandemic. Make sure it is from a reputable source like the link above.
- Volunteer. Organizations that rely on volunteers may have lost that support because volunteers are themselves at higher risk due to age or medical conditions. If you’re not in that category, seek opportunities to be of service. Remember that stretched staffs probably can’t organize new projects right now; let them know what you’re good at, but willing to do whatever is most needed. Remember to practice safety to maintain personal and public health. https://www.volunteermatch.org/covid19
- Wash your hands and practice social distancing. We can all do our part by practicing good hygiene and social distancing. Keep yourself safe and protect the health of others.
Like my daffodil, trying to find its way, I have confidence we will do the same. When that time comes, I hope we won’t forget; that we continue the human connectedness which physical distancing is, ironically, promoting. I’d love to see us keep that spirit of pulling together, giving our heart, our time, and our dollars. Our neighbors, nonprofits, small businesses, and communities will depend on us for many seasons to come.
Cheryl Green Rosario is founder of CGR Consulting, which helps corporations, foundations, and nonprofits increase their philanthropic and diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) impact. Cheryl has worked for over 25 years in the areas of corporate social responsibility, foundation and nonprofit, and has spoken internationally on matters related to philanthropy and DEI.
Cheryl lives in Westfield, NJ with her husband and two children.