Saturday, April 11, 2020

Helping and un-helping

There's a nurse who works in a nearby (suburban) hospital who lives a few doors down from me.  In PC (Pre-Covid-19) Days, she'd stop by for dog kisses.  Now we chat from extremely safe distances.   She says, "people bring so much food by the hospital -- too much food.  If I see another pizza, I'm going to be sick". 

It's hard to know how to help without un-helping.  There was an article in the local paper the other day about a woman who made meals for health care workers, and who finally was asked (politely) to please stop (which she did).  When you feel like you're one of the fortunate ones -- with health and money and time and energy -- and you know that other people around don't have those things, it's natural to want to try to do something.  But what we don't have, in this new and ever-changing situation, is knowledge or understanding of what exactly to do.  And it's hard to just go ask, because we're shut up in our houses. 

I told my nurse neighbor about sewing masks for our local (city) hospital, and she said her hospital is definitely not accepting homemade masks*.  She told me, though, that they ARE accepting button straps -- a strip of cloth that goes behind the head, almost from ear to ear, with buttons that you can hook the elastic on face masks to.  This relieves pressure on the ears, which get sore from wearing the same mask all day long.   
*[Note: my city hospital is accepting some homemade masks, 
and in fact they gave me fabric to use in the masks.  
I'm not sure whether the masks I'm making are for the workers 
or for visitors, but either way, I am glad to do as I'm told.]

Meanwhile, the rescue mission where I serve breakfast weekly sent out an email recently, closing their "Volunteer Hub", and saying
Our fantastic community is reaching out to us and wanting to find ways to help, but – unfortunately – it is actually more taxing on our limited staff to be training new volunteers each day.
What a crazy situation.  I was really, really flattered that the email went on to say,
You are receiving this email because you have been identified by our Kitchen Staff as trustworthy volunteers who are faithful and committed to the care and well-being our Guests. We are wondering if you might consider being on our volunteer call list, just in case we should face a staffing problem over the next few weeks and need additional help.
I so want to be a help and not an un-help.  So even though I love taking initiative, I'm trying to be unnaturally humble, and I'm trying hard to take directions from people on the front lines. 

1 comment:

  1. It's so important to try and ask a few questions about what's needed before diving in. The impulse to help in any way you can is strong and we typically encourage it with saying things like "any little bit adds up" but it's easy to forget that it can add up the wrong way as well. Something I try to bear in mind always when I'm trying to help people, too. :)