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Let’s help each other out

We need a pandemic to treat each other respectfully?

These are tough times with an undecided future. With that, I have seen such incredible acts of generosity. I’m only scratching the surface by highlighting those people offering to deliver meals and groceries, or tutor children online. If there is some kind of rainbow in a global shutdown, then let it be the ability to treat each other with respect and help out where we can.

People are being asked to stay home, but that is heeded only after stocking their shelves and deciding a lifetime supply of toilet paper is necessary. (Seriously, buy a bidet.) I’ve listened to concerns about shops changing hours and pictures of empty shelves. The concern is raised not for the workers, but for the inconvenience. I haven’t seen a lot of photos of workers restocking those shelves. These are the people that are the gears that keep things moving whether there is a global virus or not. “Please” and “thank you” are always appreciated.

If you want to help, volunteering to babysit random children may not be the best answer. This is not the time to resurrect the Chickenpox House Party. (Back in the olden days, when I was young, parents would expose their children to chickenpox just to “get it over with.” You don’t want to “go get” COVID-19.) That is just my opinion and that of every medical professional. I’m not saying that the babysitting offer isn’t generous or that the need isn’t necessary. The issue I foresee is longevity and continuity. The children and caregivers both need consistency. One option that is being done in the UK is an alternating parent/caregiver/friend child care. Parents check with employers to be able to stay at home one day to child-care share with other families. That way the contact is limited to a small familiar cluster. The children will most likely know the other children and there will be longevity and consistency. The group remains small, and each parent takes a day with the cooperation of their employer. Another way to help parents unable to work remotely is to offer to run errands.

Another way to help is to call the Office of the Aging (Franklin County at 518-481-1526 or Essex County at 518-873-3695) as well as your town hall offices. Lists are being compiled of residents who have compromised immune systems or are part of our more fragile population. Volunteer to be a runner. Food pantries can always use food (foodpantries.org) with drop boxes in most grocery stores. Authorities are trying to be as systematic as possible. Please be patient. Don’t forget to ask for ways to help the first responders, health care professionals, small businesses and the service industry. They are out in the field and may not have time to take care of things at home. There are social media groups forming so people can ask for assistance, but also double-check with authorities so efforts aren’t being duplicated. Remember that most people here do not have a lot of real-world pandemic experience unless you lived in a war zone or you’re my 91-year-old mother.

You will get frustrated with your children’s teachers. I know. My husband is a teacher, and I can hear the complaints from here. He is trying his best, as are all the educators. They are not taking a vacation. They are trying to maneuver uncharted territory. Online learning is not going to work for everyone, so let’s use this as an opportunity to discover new options. Let’s keep the communication civil and constructive.

I don’t have any answers, really. I just love how kind-hearted everyone is during a pandemic. When this ends, I hope we all walk away from this and remember how we wanted to help our neighbors. We helped not because of common views but in spite of our differences. We helped because we are all human.

Diane Chase is the author of the Adirondack Family Time guidebook series. For family-friendly activities go to AdirondackFamilyTime.com.

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