Question: I am overwhelmed by all the bad news I keep seeing. Can you share some good news with me?
Keeping up with current events can feel very overwhelming, especially with so much focus on the devastation caused by the COVID-19 outbreak. While its important to stay informed, we also must take breaks and balance the bad news with the good. When you look for it, the positive examples are all around us. There are many heartwarming stories, both locally and nationally. For example, people supporting healthcare workers by coming outside every night at 7pm to applaud them, donating hand made masks and helping their neighbors.
I want to share some from my own experiences working at Senior Concerns over the past month. March 13th was one of the most difficult days in my career. We had to temporarily close our Adult Day Program and say goodbye to the many participants we have grown to truly care about. At the end of that day, a woman who attends the program and has Alzheimer’s disease suddenly went and sat at the piano. This woman is a classically trained pianist but had not played in the 5 years since her diagnosis. Suddenly, she began to play and serenaded all of us with her beautiful music and had the staff in tears. The love you could feel in the room was palpable and I knew we would get through this.
The following week my spirits were lifted even more when we put the call out to the community asking for volunteers. Within two days, we had over 60 people apply to volunteer to help the older adults in our community. I have never seen such an immediate outpouring of support. That number of volunteers continues to grow as our community rallies together. Together, we have worked hard to organize a new program where volunteers grocery shop for older adults so they can stay home safely.
Every time I would call one of these volunteers to shop for a senior they always responded quickly and enthusiastically. One older adult who is receiving this assistance told me it felts good just knowing someone is watching out for her. She also said she felt so alone and scared until she learned we were here to help. Meanwhile, her volunteer told me that helping this woman made them feel useful and proactive during a difficult time for all of us.
Doing my work for Senior Concerns has certainly helped me feel useful and has provided me something to focus on every day. The sad stories are there, and we should not ignore them. But when we look, the good stories are here even in our own neighborhood. When I take a walk around my neighborhood, I see messages of support written in sidewalk chalk. The hospitals have homemade signs out front that say, “Hero’s Work Here.” Everyone from local businesses to neighbors are working hand in hand to get through this crisis together. This all reminds me of the great quote from Fred Rogers: “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” In these uncertain times, I urge you to look for the helpers. It will shift your focus and bring a sense of community and hope to your day.
Martha Shapiro can reached at Senior Concerns at 805-497-0189 or by email at email@example.com.