It’s been more than two months since many of our lives were turned upside down. Everything changed in a matter of days. For many of us that meant no more school, no more work, no recreational activities and even a routine, fun trip to Target suddenly became an overwhelming and unnerving excursion.
As we have all struggled to adjust to new routines and ways of living, many are starting to see glimmers of hope. Little things happening each day give us hope that things might sometime soon return to some semblance of normal.
For my husband who works in healthcare – steadily decreasing numbers of COVID cases means less strain on an overburdened healthcare system and its overworked staff.
For my small business friends and family – expanding to online sales and the slow reopening of some retail business means they can start rehiring staff and begin to generate badly needed revenue.
But for many of my colleagues, other concerns are settling in. For my fellow nonprofit peers and social justice advocates, the fears are mounting. With news that schools around the country are closed for the remainder of the year, our minds quickly shift into overdrive. Not just for our own circumstances and trying to figure out how we will manage with our own kids, but for the populations we serve.
These are challenging times for all of us, but for some the challenges (and the stakes) are much bigger and scarier. For the foster families who are still taking in children and struggling to meet the needs of children who have experienced trauma while managing the trauma we are all now experiencing that is life during a national pandemic. Older kinship caregivers, many of whom lost their jobs early on, are now trying to help grandchildren continue their education on unfamiliar technology. Vulnerable women and children, forced to social distance and isolated at home with an abuser. Parents raising children with special healthcare needs, separated from their support system of teachers, therapists and medical professionals. Food-insecure families struggling to keep food on the table or those trying to find stable housing. The list goes on.
These scenarios run constantly through our minds day and night. We know these aren’t just hypotheticals. These are real people. Real life. We know their names. They are the ones we have dedicated our professional careers to serving, advocating on behalf of, supporting. With them, some of the hardest work we have ever done with them is just beginning.
We are all struggling to come up with answers. The need for non-profits is greater than before. To do what we have always done – make the most of limited funding and resources and come together to find innovative ways to take care of each other as well as the vulnerable populations we love and passionately serve. It was hard before COVID, it is hard during and it will be hard after.
Out of all of this really scary, challenging time, you see hope, strength and resilience. Volunteers delivering meals to families, a social worker (due any minute with her first child!) showing up to work with at-risk youth, teachers lined up in cars to drive around town so their students can see their faces in person. This is the community who continues to show up – reminded us that there is good with the bad – and that we will continue to show up for life.
To everyone who is scared and uncertain about this “new” life after COVID – we are with you. But thank you for continuing to show up, to serve, to dream big, to help those around you. Things might not ever go back to the way they were but we are certain together along with our amazing nonprofit friends, we can make it better.