Happy weekend! Well, it definitely doesn’t feel like a normal spring weekend, but somehow reaching Saturday still feels a little comforting to me. Now that we’re all adjusting to our new temporary normal a little, I think many of us are getting the itch to reach beyond ourselves and do something positive for others…even if we have to contribute from a distance. So today, while we continue in the vein of inner beauty, I thought we’d shift just a little and talk about the beauty of living in community…even from a distance. I’ve got 18 different ways you and I can serve and invest in our communities while practicing responsible social distancing.
The beauty of living in community
We were created to live in community. And we thrive and live healthier, happier and more productive lives when we link arms with those around us and contribute to each other’s well-being.
Living in community pulls us out of ourselves a little, helping us to put our own situations in perspective. Doing life with other people also makes us more well-rounded, more interesting and more gracious as we begin to see that other people, while very different from us, are really similar to us in many more ways. Like sandpaper rubbing away the rough edges, living out the “one anothers” in the Bible actually makes us more like Christ.
- love one another (Romans 12:10)
- serve one another (1 Peter 4:10)
- carry one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2)
- be kind to one another (Ephesians 4:32)
- show hospitality to one another (1 Peter 4:9)
- live in harmony with one another (Romans 12:16)
- encourage one another (1 Thessalonians 5:11)
So while we may need to keep a little physical distance between ourselves and others right now, we can still “love one another.” And not only does that reflect beautifully on us, but it makes our world a more beautiful place to live.
Let’s see what we can do.
A few things to remember
Obviously right now health is of utmost importance. We don’t want to do anything that would sacrifice our health or the well-being of someone else. So if you are in a high risk category or older, you may need to isolate yourself even more than some of us. Not all of these tips for living in community will apply to every person. Please keep that in mind, and use sound judgment.
18 ways to serve & invest in your community from a distance
- Check in on the elderly or health compromised. I’ve volunteered to call or contact regularly a small group of seniors from my church. I’m simply calling or emailing them and offering to help in any way I can: fetch groceries, pick up prescriptions, mail packages, whatever I can do. Contact your family of faith or a senior community center in your area to volunteer to do the same.
- Drop off some cheer. While you’re at the grocery store, pick up a potted plant or vase of flowers and leave it on the doorstep of a neighbor or friend with a kind note. We could all use some semblances of spring indoors right now. Or maybe if you luck out and find some sanitary wipes or hand sanitizer at the grocery store, share that with your neighbors.
- Donate blood. The Red Cross has begun pleading for people to give blood because they’re concerned that donations may go down as more people contract the Corona virus and become ineligible. If you’re healthy and normally able to give, this is a good time to step up to the plate. There is no risk of catching the virus associated with blood transmission. Make an appointment ahead of time because many donation centers are trying to space out donations to prevent crowds.
- Help feed the elderly who are shut in. Meals on Wheels already delivers meals to elderly people across the country. But they are concerned that needs may increase through this pandemic. You can give financially to the Meals on Wheels COVID-19 Response Fund to help ensure that this program continues and meets the growing needs.
- Send HELP to parents of young children. During a time when kids would normally be in school and/or enjoying playdates, trips to the zoo, outings with friends or little league practice, parents will soon run out of ways to keep them entertained without resorting to overuse of television and electronics. Send care packages to a family. But instead of packing the items yourself, send them directly from Amazon, Walmart or other retailer. Consider gifts such as a books, games or arts and crafts sets.
- Contribute to a local food pantry. Churches, shelters and other organizations are beefing up their food pantries presently. Check with the organization first for items they’re needing, drop-off hours and policies. Need help locating a local food pantry? Check here.
- Shop responsibly. Many grocery and household goods stores have posted limits for items such as eggs, milk and paper supplies at this point. But even if they haven’t, you can be a good neighbor by taking from the shelf only what you need for a two-week period.
- Volunteer with a local service organization. Check your county, city and/or school district’s website to see if there are local organizations requesting help. You may find requests to deliver meals to seniors or school children, for instance.
- Eat “out.” Many restaurants are open only for delivery or pick-up at this point, but they still need our business. If possible, purchase a meal or two “out” this week, and tip the delivery person generously. Uber-Eats, Door Dash and GrubHub are all providing contact-free delivery through payment on their apps or websites, and many restaurants that deliver are offering the same.
- Buy gift cards to local establishments. Many nail salons, hair salons, full service salons, boutiques and other small businesses provide the opportunity to purchase gift cards through their websites. You can pump money into these vulnerable businesses right now by purchasing gift cards and then gifting them or using them later.
- Pay your regulars…anyhow. If you normally have someone to clean your home, care for your kids, cook your meals or do your nails, you may have cancelled their services temporarily. If possible, consider paying them anyhow. Consider it a retainer fee or a measure of good will toward someone who serves you consistently.
- Support the arts. Many theaters, concert halls and even exhibit halls have cancelled performances. This is a great time to consider giving a donation to your local symphony, museum or theater company.
- Keep in touch…from a distance. Obviously we have more means than ever to stay in touch with friends and family. Prioritize checking in with friends and loved ones via Skype or Facetime during this season. You can also text or call of course. Remember, don’t wait for others to reach out to you; take the initiative. I’m texting people I would normally only bother if I really needed something from them. But this time I’m just letting them know that I’m thinking of them and asking friendly questions.
- Say hello and be friendly. I’m seeing more people than ever when I do get out of the house to take a walk through the neighborhood. Even if others don’t acknowledge me, I’m raising my hand, looking them in their eyes and saying hello. We all need a little friendly interaction more than ever right now.
- Follow the
rules…um guidelines. No preaching intended, but we do all need to make sure we’re doing the very things our community leaders have asked of us. Let’s trust that those in leadership are making big decisions after weighing all the contributing factors. If gatherings are limited to ten or fewer people, let’s comply. And if we’re told not to gather at all, let’s do that, too.
- Give a little grace. I’ve noticed that many people are extra friendly and cooperative during this unique time. But I’ve also witnessed (and experienced) some rather testy interactions and biting remarks. Let’s give a little grace when someone “loses it,” realizing that we’re all under a lot of stress right now, and at any given moment any among us could say something extreme or even ugly.
- Do due diligence in public spaces. While we should always practice good hygiene, this is definitely a time to be even more vigilant about personal cleanliness, especially in public places. For instance, if you visit a public restroom, take the time to wipe down the water knobs of the sink before and after using them. I’m carrying my own sanitized wipes in my purse these days, using them to wipe down grocery carts, bathroom doorknobs and bathroom appliances before and after use.
- Keep your distance. Finally, let’s not forget that the very best thing we can do for one another right now, truly, is to keep our distance from one another. Let’s give each other a wide berth of personal space when we pass each other on the sidewalk or in the grocery store. Let’s cover our faces with the crook of our arms or a tissue when we sneeze or cough.
Do you have thoughts you’d like to share about today’s topic? I’d love to hear from you today! I tend to take as much time off from work as I can during the weekends, so I may not reply to your comments unless you ask me a direct question. But I’d love for you to carry on this conversation in the comment section below. And you can know for certain that I read and value each and every comment. Please remember that I try to keep this space free from controversy, so let’s stay away from the topic of politics or other divisive issues.