Joyful Living

How Do I Help? Update


I wrote my first post on helping during the pandemic a couple of months ago. Things were still new, scary, and overwhelming, and I thought it was important to focus on positive ways to help in the community: stay home, donate, support local businesses, and find reliable information. This post re-shares what we can keep doing to help during the pandemic, with a bonus addition.

As I wrote in my last post on helping, knowing how to help is challenging when you feel impotent and out of control. Sometimes, I still feel at a loss at what to do that actually helps others during the pandemic. And I still feel guilty for hiding safely in the comfort of my home, with its fenced yard and garden, and for having a spouse who works from home full-time to support us while I job search. I remind myself to channel fear into power and effect positive change during this negative time.

1. Stay Home

Celebrating my birthday at home, with a sleepy pup and a view of the Green Mountains

It’s still very important to stay home as much as possible. It may not be sexy or fun. It may be boring and lame. But now is still the time to be lame, people. Take it from a lame homebody: staying home is the coolest thing you can do right now. You can cook a simple dinner at home, or make your own Orangina, or have a picnic. It’s fun, I promise!

Some people can’t stay home due to jobs as essential workers or other responsibilities. For their sake, those of use who can stay home and work from home must continue to do so.

It’s tempting to relax. Summer is here, school is out, and businesses like restaurants and movie theaters are opening in different parts of the country. Maybe now you don’t wear your mask as much or wash your hands as often. Many countries and U.S. states are reporting spikes in cases, especially among younger people. I implore you to keep practicing social distancing and hygiene habits.

2. Donate

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on

Another thing you can do, if your budget and circumstances allow, is donate. Organizations like local food banks, churches, libraries, Frontline Foods, and the Humane Society are still operational and badly need your financial support. You can also consider virtually tipping for restaurants and deliveries and donating to facilities that provide programs for drug and alcohol treatment and recovery.

The need for meals has only grown the pandemic. In Vermont alone, with a population of 625,000, food insecurity has increased by one-third during the coronavirus pandemic, from 18.3% to 24.3%. The largest factor contributing to food insecurity is unemployment, also a result of the pandemic. Please consider donating to Feeding America or directly to your local food bank.

3. Support Local Businesses

Carry out falafel from Farm to Fork at Common Roots Farm

I’m not an economist, but the pandemic is destroying the service and hospitality industries and small businesses. You can help by supporting local businesses. Buy gift cards for salons, gift stores, and shops that you can use or give away later. Many restaurants, bars, and retailers like bookstores offer delivery or curbside pickup.

We order takeout from local restaurants once per week and even hosted a dinner party at home. We’ve also gotten into the habit of calling in orders to local franchises like the hardware store and arranging no-contact pickup. Anything you buy locally pumps tax dollars into your community’s infrastructure.

4. Find Reliable Information

Photo by cottonbro on

We’ve all heard of fake news. We know the havoc wrought by the misinformation and disinformation spread online and in the media during the 2016 presidential election in the United States, with disastrous consequences. I’m seeing the same havoc running rampant today with misinformation and disinformation campaigns around the coronavirus, spread unchecked by an irresponsible and corrupt federal government more interested in covering its own tracks and securing reelection than on saving lives.

The virus is novel and things are still changing monthly, weekly, daily, hourly, and getting and sharing coronavirus news and information from reliable sources is paramount. Do not let private-equity funded media outlets with no morals or oversight sway you with right-leaning rhetoric and propaganda. Now is the time to be an advocate and ally. Find a trustworthy source for up-to-date, reliable COVID-19 information and stick with it: the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization, or your state’s department of health.

5. Keep in Touch

Zoom happy hour with Ashley and kitties in Detroit from Vermont with Le Chien

My wise and thoughtful friend, Dianah, who currently lives in Ankara, Turkey with her husband and three children, suggested keeping in touch and checking on others as a way to help during the pandemic. From the comfort of your own home, you can keep in touch with friends, family, and colleagues through a variety of mediums: phone call, email, text, video chat, social media platforms.

I prefer to stick with one or two outlets, as there are so many apps as to overwhelm those with a tender sensibility such as myself. During the pandemic, I’ve expanded my range of communications methods to meet my friends and family where they are and make myself available to them. Sarah and Kelly prefer texting; we text. Christiane and Winnie like WhatsApp, so we exchange voice or text messages every few weeks. Gil and I send long monthly email updates. Ryan likes Google Duo, so we video chat and enjoy each other’s virtual company. My mother and I talk on the phone almost every day. And so on.

Being in contact with so many people has been such a pleasure, and a good habit I hope continues beyond the pandemic. Whether we are sending memes or videos of silly dachshunds or sitting down for a Zoom happy hour, connecting with others releases endorphins and lifts the spirits. I wonder why it took global illness to force us to stay in, slow down, and really connect with each other.

Today, I admit to still feeling scared and overwhelmed by the novel coronavirus’ effect on how we live now and what will happen in the future. As we adjust to the new normal and many places begin to reopen, it’s ignorant to remember we still owe a responsibility to ourselves and others to be safe and conscientious.

The most important thing to do is stay home. A self-avowed homebody, I love being at home. But I get it’s a drag for some, especially now that stay-home orders are being lifted around the Unites States. Americans often don’t want to be told what to do. We’re independent and strong-willed. The culture of independence and liberty is imprinted onto our collective consciousness. I totally get it; I live in New England.

But this is the time to set aside personal preferences for the collective good. We must still think about how our actions affect others and accept that social distancing and staying home benefit us all. And, in a world with coronavirus, saves lives.

How are you keeping in touch with family, friends, and colleagues during the pandemic?

Merci for reading and please subscribe and share!

À votre santé,



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