This Passover and Easter season has me thinking… about you, my readers, family and friends. In the face of this global pandemic, Covid-19 has changed the way we interact each other temporarily, if not permanently. Most of you are in some version of limited contact, isolation or hospitalization. We have been forced into a life makeover that we didn’t request.
Most small and larger businesses are feeling the immediate and devastating impact of an unprecedented economic plummet. Global instability has caused our markets to crash and we are feeling insecure about our futures. The blistering hot awareness of our own fragile mortality is forcefully and persistently poking its finger at us, right in the center of our heart.
The loss of lives as a result of this disease is devastating. I’ve lost friends and family members and perhaps you have too. As of this writing, I have just learned of another fallen friend in my circle. And to extend the shock and grieving process, there is no way to grieve or say goodbye in the ways that have been comforting and familiar to us in the recent past.
In the midst of a storm (and the calm), along with our own daily self-care, we must look out for the well-being of others. I’ve learned from observation of my parents, to willingly live most of my life in service to others, from working on Los Angeles’ Skid Row, to volunteering in food banks and distributing to those in need, the most basic necessities of life, that we often take for granted. It has made me grateful for every breath, every friendship and everything in my possession. They left a beautiful legacy that I have passed down to my children.
Is it still a beautiful day in the neighborhood?
The wise and beloved Mr. Rogers said, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping. Then, you’ll know that there is hope.” Last Sunday, in the pouring rain, uninitiated by me, my kiddos when door to door in our neighborhood, checking on those we knew and those we didn’t. With respirator masks, heavy jackets and hats, their appearance through a door peep viewer would be a bit intimidating so they made a quick sign to indicate the purpose of their visit.
Even though most of the people on my block had everything they needed for now, one woman was pregnant and on full quarantine. There was another who had signs outside of their door to please not enter due to a respiratory illness. There was also one elderly widower who had been online for hours trying to order from a local retailer. He needed groceries to be delivered to his home but was unable to place an order. Due to his advancing age and health, what, until recently, had been a simple, enjoyable task, had suddenly betrayed his sense of well-being and turned into a potentially life-threatening, outdoor event. He was housebound, hungry and alone.
Perhaps like you, our entire household has been adversely impacted by this pandemic. My son was abruptly laid off and my daughter, furloughed. Nevertheless, they understood that we we’re all in this situation together and the value of community outreach and care. They took notes on what our neighbor requested, headed to the store and returned with everything he needed to survive. He was so grateful for their simple act of generosity that he even tipped them $20.00! They put the money in a “Neighbor Care Fund” jar and purchased groceries for another neighbor today!
For the past 18 months, I have been volunteering at an outstanding food bank with a limited number of volunteers who have been feeding the local and surrounding communities since 2009. Initially starting with 35 families, the number of people we serve has grown! In February 2020, we provided food for 2,631 people and in six short weeks the need has dramatically increased to feed over 6,000 individuals. We are so grateful for the long-standing partnerships with many grocery chains, such as Wal-Mart, Sprouts and Albertsons, bakeries, restaurants and other small businesses who do their part and consistently donate to reduce waste and end hunger.
The population served at NewLife Community Church in Pomona, CA are generally the homeless, mentally ill, working class, skilled yet underemployed families, children and veterans. Many are retirees, disabled individuals and college students. But that demographic is changing.
Working on the front lines has it’s dangers.
We are doing hard and undesirable work. We never know what state of mind a person will be in when they enter our long lines to receive boxes of food. We have been threatened, yelled at, hugged and appreciated all in the same day. As this is an under-served and fringe population, many come through our doors sick, and at times, contagious. There have been times when I have become ill as a result. But, I recover and get back to work!
As a result of this pandemic, our model of delivery has shifted for the increased safety of all involved. Many food banks have closed yet more people are out of work, needing food to feed their households, many drive from over 50 miles away. The barely educated and those with advanced degrees alike are coming to us for help.
While other curves flatten, ours is rising!
Between February and March, due to the corona virus, the number of people we serve is skyrocketing beyond capacity! The data speaks for itself and I am personally asking for your help to bridge the gap.
You may not be on the front lines. Will you support those of us who are?
Would you consider giving the gift of life in the form of a donation, in memorial or in honor of a loved one? I want to spend time with family and friends. I want to visit the grave sites of my parents. Give a heartfelt hug to those who are important to me. Simply extend my hand to shake another upon introduction. Pay my respects and attend the services of the dead or embrace others who are grieving. Can you relate to how I’m feeling? What has been halted in your normal routine? We can’t do any of that right now! Most everyone is on lock down or must be communicated with from a distance of at least six feet.
So, I ease my grief and frustration by helping others and give a tangible gift in memoriam. Have you ever noticed how much better we feel when we divert the focus from self, and consider others? We are in this crisis together and when we all give from what we are able – no more, no less – the needs will be met.
I’m not asking you to give without first, setting the example.
Here’s what I’ve done, nothing grandiose, but feasible and in memory of my parents. A donation of any size $5 to $500 will make a an important impact in the lives of those who may be in more dire circumstance than we are. You also have the option of recurring or one-time gifts. It’s another meaningful way to continue to honor a loved ones memory.
Now that our cars are getting about three weeks to the gallon, will you consider your part in safe service to others and make a donation? Let NewLife know who you would like to honor. I will also create a special “In Memoriam” page honoring them as well. Of course, all gifts are tax deductible. www.NewLifePomona.com/give.
My point is this: The bottom line is that we need to buy more food or people will go hungry, be turned away and in some cases, pass away. The destitution is real and we are stretched to our limits expecting to serve close to 10 thousand persons this month. No adult, senior citizen, foster child or veteran should go away empty handed, fearful and stomach aching with hunger.
If you or anyone you know is in need of food, the distribution location is New Life Community Church, 275 East Foothill Blvd, Pomona, CA 91767, Friday’s from 11:00 am – 3:00 pm or until our resources are depleted.
Thank you for being part of the safe solution. I hope to be on the front lines again soon, serving my neighbors and possibly your neighbors as well.
Hang in there. I appreciate you. Keep the Faith and stay in touch.
Meet me at the top!
♛ Melanie Grace
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