“There comes a time, when we heed a certain call. When the world must come together as one.”
By: Maureen Spataro
There is no more profound way to sum up the beauty of giving than the opening lines to the classic 1985 song, “We Are The World.” As we navigate through this unprecedented chapter in history, one thing is certain: Every one of us is essential in this world. Collectively, we have shifted our admiration from movie stars, recording artists, and the rich and famous, and have instead become fans of one another and of those who walk amongst us on a daily basis.
Nurses and doctors around the world have become our frontline superheros. Walking into life-threatening conditions on a daily basis with little protection, they put aside their own safety and well-being to care for their patients whose lives hang in the balance. With no family or loved ones permitted to be at their loved ones’ bedside, these heroes and heroines have taken on the role of emotional caretakers of their patients as well as their patients’ families. From making joyful updates to reassure families that their loved one is making progress, to heart-shattering calls allowing a family their final goodbye and to let them know the person they love is not alone, these men and women give of themselves in all ways every day.
With their ranks growing thinner due to their exposure to COVID-19, EMS workers, police officers, and firefighters continue to answer desperate calls despite the added risk due to a shortage of proper protection. Their oath to do what they must, despite being stretched to the limit, remains a promise they also continue to uphold. Under any circumstance their job is dangerous—now more than ever as they face an enemy they cannot see.
But what about the men and women who we have never been categorized as heroes, who stepped up to ensure the needs of their communities are met? These people have given us a sense of normalcy under circumstances that are anything but “life as usual.”
These are the men and women who have dusted off sewing machines to make protective masks in order to counter the shortage faced by care workers, as well as communities at large. Groups and communities have set up food caravans to shop for and deliver groceries to the elderly who are isolated. Restaurants and caterers, themselves in danger of losing everything they have built, are providing meals to their communities and frontline workers.
And what about the community members we see daily or weekly, but have never stopped to acknowledge as essential or heroic? Our postal workers and mail carriers, for instance, can now add “pandemic” to their creed, “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.”
Yet, there are others… The neighbor who is our cashier at the supermarket, or the trucker who delivers goods to those markets. For some it was what they did for a living, or a parttime position to bring in some extra money for necessities or to save for family vacations. Now those workers have quite literally put their health and well-being on the line to ensure our pantries are stocked.
And what about the food pantries? Record numbers of families can no longer afford to put food on their tables. Who stocks and runs those? Who is there to load the cars to provide those in need with a nourishing meal they once took for granted but no longer can afford? Volunteers: Men, women, young adults, and teenagers standing with bags of groceries and a smile to help alleviate the fear of not knowing where or when your family’s next meal will come.
What we bring to the table as individuals and as a society is essential. It always has been. In the past, some have stepped forward in ways others may have wanted but could not. Work, family responsibilities, and time constraints didn’t allow many to give fully in ways outside of their day-to-day lives. But now, what we are seeing is the beauty of giving on a grand scale. And, in the fear and darkness of this unknown chapter, hope always floats because of those who give.
“It’s true we’ll make a better day, just you and me.”
It will show we were, have always been, and will always be essential.
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