5 Ways to Be of Service to Your Community While Social Distancing
It may feel strange to think that staying home and limiting contact with people can actually help someone, but when it comes to preventing the spread of infectious disease, social distancing is truly the least selfish thing anyone can do. According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, social distancing is described as the deliberate increase in physical space between people to prevent the spread of infectious disease, which in turn, reduces the chances that healthcare facilities become overwhelmed by people in need of immediate medical care.
If you feel the call to help those around you in such a time, there are several things you can do from a distance (read: inside your home) that can make a significant impact on your community.
We may be powerless over the COVID-19 virus, but we’re not powerless over how we choose to respond and support our communities in the face of it.
This may sound selfish, but like the Oxygen Mask Theory suggests — we are best equipped to help others when we meet our own needs first. One way to practice self-care right now is by implementing good hygiene practices, which include washing your hands and staying home as much as possible. Additionally, getting enough sleep, eating nutritious food, drinking plenty of water, and staying in contact with people who support you are steps you can take to care for yourself. Self-care can look like any number of things depending on the person. Our needs are constantly changing right now, so if you find yourself feeling overwhelmed, try asking yourself what you need at this exact moment. Once you know, allow yourself to meet that need, or ask someone if they can help you, because it’s OK to ask for help.
With people panic-buying and resource hoarding, families, and individuals who are not in a position to buy a month’s worth of food and toiletries may be left without essentials. Fortunately, local food banks, farmworker groups, schools, nonprofit organizations, and other associations designed to empower the public are still working hard to make sure members of our society will not go without necessities. To donate, go online and find an organization of your choice, or ask a friend if they know of any places that could use support. Ideally, you want to find a group that is taking current, active measures to meet a need at this time. You can help by making one-time or recurring donations. You could also start a fundraiser to help from afar.
Support local businesses.
Many businesses have been forced to close their doors temporarily during this quarantine period, and the small, local businesses that make your town special will likely be hit the hardest. Fortunately, you can help. If you’re going to go out to pick up food, research which local restaurants are open for pickup service — most establishments have current hours and COVID-19 practice standards listed on their social media pages, although a phone call can help you find answers as well. You might also consider purchasing a gift certificate online, which will create immediate income to businesses who may be hurting, and once it’s safe to socialize again, you’ll have a treat waiting for you. Finally, if you know someone who offers services right now, share their business on your social media channels, because you never know who might be interested in supporting.
Check on compromised neighbors.
If you’re willing and able, check in with your elderly or immune-compromised friends, family, and neighbors to see if you can pick up anything while you’re out. Social distancing not only keeps you safe, and your healthcare facilities from becoming potentially overwhelmed, but prevents those most at risk from possibly becoming infected and furthering the spread of disease. Even if they don’t need anything at the moment, checking in can go a long way for someone who may be feeling isolated, lonely, or even frightened.
Use social media to share solutions.
There is a lot of information at our fingertips all of the time, and with more people staying indoors and distancing from others, the phone, laptop, or tablet is in many people’s hands even more so than usual. Sharing up to date information about what’s going on in the world and your community can be helpful, assuming it’s coming from reliable sources. What can be especially useful right now is sharing specific calls to action, like fundraisers for friends out of work, where parents can pick up free school lunches for their kids while school is on hiatus, online meetings for those in recovery, or contact information for state representatives to lobby for reformative measures.
We may be powerless over the COVID-19 virus, but we’re not powerless over how we choose to respond and support our communities in the face of it. Social distancing is an act of service, and you can serve your community from home in many ways while keeping the world safe.