Reach Out while Staying In!
Being stuck at home does not mean that we can't help others outside the home. We just have to do it differently.
So, how can we make each day better for others when we can’t go near them? How do we serve from afar? It’s just too easy to hide away and let everyone else stay hidden, but there are many who will fall by the wayside, melt into walls, and spend each day without any human interaction at all. We think we can’t help, and I felt the same way until it came to me. I must find some way to reach out to those who are isolated and alone. Here are a few ideas that I have tried that seemed to help others.
1. CELEBRATE SUNSETS
Can you play “Amazing Grace” or “Taps” on a portable instrument? It’s time to dust off your trumpets, pull out the pipes, or bring out an amp for your guitar. You have them for a reason. Do a few little rehearsals of these two easy tunes. At sunset, venture into your driveway, play a verse or two (slowly), and then go back into the house. Repeat daily, and you will find that the neighbors look forward to it.
I’ve been doing this with my bagpipes, and I make sure I always have them with me at sunset. Sometimes I play for my backyard neighbors; other evenings I play in my front yard. Occasionally I’ll do both. It’s nice to see everyone venture onto their driveways and just enjoy the beautiful sunset together, while apart.
2. CALL TEAMS
Make a list of anyone you know who is alone at home, in a nursing home, or because of age or health cannot leave. Sometimes it is best to get together with others, such as, your pastor, friends, or extended family to do this (which also helps them as they help you). Contact a few people on this list and ask if they can help you make calls. If they are already on your list, it gives them something to do to make connections, and it really helps them and others.
When you call, let them know that you are creating call teams to check on neighbors, family, and friends and ask for their health. Let them know they can split the calling days with members of their groups, but the idea is that each person either makes or receives a call every day. It also serves to find out if they need something.
I worked with my pastor today to do this for parishioners who are alone, and I was thrilled by how excited all were to receive a phone call and help with the call teams. We divided 30 people into 7 teams, and if any are having problems, they contact our priest. If they need shopping, we provide links for groups or stores that do that.
As of tomorrow, people will be receiving phone calls and daily checks. Those who didn’t know what to do to help others are now making a difference and helping others do the same.
3. ZOOMING IN!
Last night, my bagpipe band met on Zoom. It was wonderful having everyone together. I’ve also used Skype. Plan a family or friend virtual party through virtual meetings. Send out invitations and the link for your party. Tell everyone to share a positive story to about what they've been doing during their times inside, and then prepare toast to friendship/family and to future get-togethers.
4. CARDS AND LETTERS
When I was a child, we wrote letters or post cards to my grandmother and other relatives. I had a pen pal and wrote to people I didn't know, but I got to know them through writing letters. I learned that recipient loved getting the mail and message from us. The same holds true today. We often forget to write letters and depend on texting and email, yet, when people receive letters, it makes their day. Write a post card, letter, or greeting card to someone you haven’t spoken to in a while, or someone you know is lonely, especially if they don’t use social media.
I found it fascinating that the letters we wrote were all saved. My brother compiled them into a book, and we now have a written history of our lives and loved ones with milestones, successes, worries, and life stories. You can’t do that with emails, but people do cherish the time it takes to write a real letter to them.
5. HELPING THOSE AT HOME
It’s so easy for people to get on each other’s nerves when confined together for a long time. Therefore, each one of us can try to improve our lives together by doing one of these each day for each family member.
A. Compliment: find something positive and give everyone at least one sincere complement. Try not to repeat your complements.
B. Help: Offer to help with a spring cleaning, chores, or schoolwork. Do you have boxes to go through or clean out clutter? Offer to spend a day reminiscing and moving stuff from boxes either out of the house or into albums or put to use.
C. Putting the other first: Open doors for others and let them go first. Serve others larger helpings than yours, let others have their choice of things to do, and offer to make a cup of tea or coffee for them.
D. Creating Keepsakes: Take pictures of the yard, write poems, draw pictures with special notes, and leave them on counters, pillows, or desks along with a smile and hearts.
E. Games, Puzzles, Crafts: Open a card table, and create a family fun zone with a puzzle, game, or craft to create. Add some chairs, and invite people to join you.
During the worries and fears with our all the uncertainties with our health, finances, jobs, and life in general, it is essential that we return to loving others, our neighbors, as ourselves. If you are alone, reach out to others. If you are with family, reach out to others. Live with the purpose right now is to stay safe while improving the lives of others.
Do you have other ideas and ways to reach out? Please share them below.