helping hands holding a red heart

And Now For Some Positive News: How Ordinary Chicagoans Are Making A Difference During COVID-19

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, something beautiful is happening.

People are inspired to be their best selves. They’re doing everything in their power to help others and make the lives of those affected by the virus easier.

Of course, there are those few people who are trying to capitalize on the situation by stocking up on hand sanitizer and then selling it for astronomically high prices. Then you also have those who hoard supplies for themselves.

However, for the vast majority of people, COVID-19 has not been a reason to abandon morals and human decency.

We’ve seen acts of incredible selflessness, generosity, and kindness from many people, including major retailers and businesses and non-profit groups. And we’ve seen this from people across the globe.

But today, we want to celebrate the everyday citizens right here in CareContent’s home city of Chicago. Here’s how people like you are making a difference in and around the Windy City.

Carolyn and Bob P.

COVID-19 MaskCarolyn and Bob, and their teenage daughter, have spent the past few years as fierce advocates for the LGBTQ community, even establishing their own non-profit. But in the wake of COVID-19, they have temporarily changed their focus.

Carolyn has been shopping for people who can’t leave the house and raising money for the #MasksNowIL group. She donates platelets every two weeks since the Red Cross is experiencing a blood shortage.

Bob is using his carpentry talents to make masks (complete with a middle layer cut out from a shop vac wet/dry filter bag to increase effectiveness), many of which have been donated to nursing homes. He created a YouTube video with simple instructions for others to do the same.

“Our number one cause has been LGBTQ advocacy. But when there is something like a pandemic, you have to put your personal priorities aside for the time being. Your number one cause has to be helping those affected by the virus.”

Carol W.

Carol has been volunteering in her community for years, but her usual work came to a halt due to the virus.

However, she has been able to keep up with a few of her activities and even find some new ones. Carol and her husband are supporting an interfaith action group by rounding up cleaning supplies for their Hospitality Center for the homeless. She volunteered to clean her church facilities after Election Day since it was a polling place. Also, she packs sack lunches for a soup kitchen so people can get grab-and-go meals.

Her volunteer work does mean taking some risks, like going grocery shopping, but Carol takes all of the precautions — she shops senior hours, wears gloves, and carries a stylus so she doesn’t touch any screens.

“When we were forced to close the overnight shelter, I knew a lot of people that would once again be sleeping on the streets in the cold weather. And that hurt my heart. It’s great to be able to help still and make sure that people could at least still get food every day.”

Jacob C.

Jacob Delivering GroceriesTo say that grocery services have seen an influx of customers would be an understatement. Wait times are longer than ever before and some delivery services are completely booked. Jacob is shopping for and delivering groceries to people who can’t get to the stores themselves so they don’t have to rely on the main delivery services.

He does not charge a fee, but everyone has been generous with tips. Since Jacob lost his full-time job due to the virus, these tips have helped him make ends meet. He is grateful but says they are unnecessary. In the end, the biggest reward is being able to help others.

“People have been extremely gracious and appreciative of the delivery, and pass my name to others. What started as one client has turned to dozens. In times of uncertainty, we all have to band together and support one another.”

Jacob’s biggest challenge? “Finding toilet paper.”

Katie L.

Katie and Babysitter SpreadsheetThere are so many healthcare workers and essential employees who need babysitters or nannies now that their children are out of school. With businesses shut down, many people now have the capacity to babysit — and could benefit from some extra income.

Katie created a Google spreadsheet where people can list themselves as available babysitters for healthcare workers still reporting to work. The spreadsheet includes spaces to list everything from means of transportation to experience working with children with special needs or infants.
They can also list their rate, but some have volunteered to babysit for free.

Katie then sent the list to her connections at area hospitals so they could share it with their employees. When posting the list, several healthcare workers commented about how grateful they were because this had been an anticipated stress for them before schools even closed.

“I’m so thankful to all of the people who have added their names to that list and are willing to put themselves potentially at risk, just by virtue of leaving their homes during this moment in history.”

Side note: Katie has worked with CareContent, and we are so proud that she is part of the family!

Miranda and Natasha W.

Miranda and Natasha ReadingMiranda and Natasha are 10-year-old twins who love theatre. When the show they were in was canceled, they decided to put their talents to good use. The twins started reading books online to young children who could no longer go to libraries or bookstores for storytime.

Their mother posted on social media, inviting parents to call in for a story. They got such a big response that the twins were reading books every hour. Soon, storytime evolved into a full learning experience where they had kids ask questions and participate. Plus, storytime gave the parents a much-needed break.

Other parents began following suit. There is now an entire Facebook community called “Reading Time,” where parents post videos of their older kids reading to younger ones.

The twins’ mother has enjoyed watching storytime grow. “This is helpful for young readers who are excited to have an audience, as well as a good resource for parents who’d rather have their kids listen to stories than watch cartoons. Everyone is entertained, and everyone wins!”

Sarah I.

Sarah doing yogaSocial distancing, fear, and the unknown have taken a toll on many people’s mental health. And with gyms, sports facilities, and even some public parks closed, it’s also making exercise a challenge.

Sarah is teaching online yoga classes. The classes are free, but she encourages participants to donate $5.00, which she donates to the American Red Cross. Sometimes, Sarah leads special donation classes for specific groups of people. For example, she led a musical theatre yoga class, with proceeds benefiting the Chicago Theatre Workers Relief Fund.

Sarah chose to teach yoga because it helps get people moving and relieves the stress of isolation and information overload. Classes allow people to come together virtually as a community, take care of themselves, and raise money for good causes.

“I am not a doctor, nurse, or scientist. It can be difficult to figure out how to help people. Identifying the skills you have and how you can use them to positively impact others is important for everyone. We all have gifts we can contribute and share with one another. When times are difficult, it’s actually an opportunity to be creative and innovative with our work.”

Want to join? Classes are on Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays at 9 a.m. Central.

1) Make a Zoom account
2) Copy and paste this into your browser (it is the meeting ID)
3) Yoga!

Rachel R.

Disclaimer: Rachel isn’t from Chicago. She lives in Baltimore. But she’s friends with people in Chicago, so that counts, right? Yes. It does. We’ve decided.

Sandwich DonationsRachel has always loved to volunteer with organizations she believes in. When she found herself out of work, she realized that she could dedicate the time that she didn’t normally have to volunteer.

As someone who has worked in both the foodservice and beauty industries, Rachel never wants someone to go without the basics or feel less than because they can’t take care of themselves. During the pandemic, Rachel has committed to making sure people get those basic necessities.

Rachel has been gathering donations for Youth With a Mission (YWAM) Baltimore, which offers grocery and meal giveaways to those in need. The restaurant she usually works at has donated so much food that YWAM was able to feed more than 120 people. She also donated food from the restaurant to a local food pantry.

And since she believes strongly that taking care of oneself involves more than food — and that the simple healing power of feeling clean can improve the spirit — she has recently started picking up donations for hygiene products, which she gives away when donating food.

“Being a part of something bigger than yourself helps you realize that you’re not alone and that we’re all in this together. The most rewarding part of volunteering during this has been the smiles and the sense of relief you can feel in the air. Of course, there is the fear of catching COVID-19, but that challenge is overpowered by the urge to help.”

On behalf of the CareContent team — and, well, everyone — thank you to all who have been volunteering, donating, and doing everything they can to help others during this time.
Stay safe!

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