10 Ways to Give and Support Your Community Amid COVID-19

A collaboration post by Jessica Watson, Lolita Taub, and Shervonne Cherry.

As we adapt to what is slowly becoming our new normal that is life during a coronavirus pandemic; there are many of us who, in addition to looking for answers and ways to stay safe, are also seeking opportunities to help. What can I do? On a recent Zoom call per social distancing guidelines, we asked ourselves this very question and dove deeper into what we were doing or could be doing to support our Baltimore and global communities. A simple Google search will reveal just how widespread the need is, but with the need so all-encompassing, it can be overwhelming trying to pick ways to be involved. We’ve come together to write a collaborative post about how we, as individuals, can support our communities amid COVID-19 with and without money.

In this post, we share:

  1. A COVID-19 recap and community challenges
  2. 10 ways to support your community with and without money
  3. A Baltimorean list of organizations supporting the community amid COVID-19

COVID-19 Recap + Challenges

COVID-19 has led to over 40,000 deaths and nearly 800,000 infected in the United States. To help reduce the spread of COVID-19, governments have requested we all practice physical distancing, nearly every state required non-essential businesses to close their physical storefronts, and businesses have pushed many to work-from-home (WFH). All of that factors into the 22 million unemployment claims we’ve seen in the last 4 weeks. Businesses continue to cut costs to withstand the COVID-19 induced economic downturn, and that’s making things tough for many. To make things worse, coronavirus pandemic racial disparities have been exposed and nearly 70% of Americans will not be able to WFH and are disposed to getting and spreading this novel coronavirus.

COVID-19 has made life tough for everyone and created many challenges — challenges we can help address in the community as individuals.

5 Ways to Support Community That Don’t Require Money

If your income has been drastically reduced or eliminated as a result of stay-at-home state mandates, it may seem like an impossible feat to somehow still support relief and community efforts surrounding COVID-19. Here are some suggestions that are easy on your wallet, won’t impact your bottom line — but can make an impact in your community:

  1. Practice Physical Distancing and Wear a Mask: Both will help decrease the spread of COVID-19 and help flatten the curve.
  2. Follow on Social Media and Leave Online Reviews: Your favorite small businesses and restaurants can always benefit from additional social media followers and positive reviews on Google, Facebook, Yelp, and/or TripAdvisor. Your digital follow helps to amplify their voice and keeps you informed on what’s happening in their world. Reviews are always something that seem like a nice idea at the moment, but are often forgotten in the grand scheme of things. Use this time to let the world know why you think a particular business is awesome by leaving a public review.
  3. Stay in Touch: It doesn’t matter if someone is single, in a relationship, has kids, has pets, lives with roommates, or lives alone. We are all experiencing this pandemic at the same time — Our lives have been interrupted, and we are all adapting to the new normal. Consider creating and sharing a Neighborhood Contact list to keep connected with your neighbors and be able to reach out in case of an emergency. If you are thinking about someone, consider taking the extra step to simply reach out with a text message or phone call. It’s always nice to be on the receiving end of a kind message, and it can open the door to strengthen your friendship or relationship with that person.
  4. Say Thank You to Essential Workers: A friend of Jessica’s sent photos of her family project with her sons, which included decorating their trash can and mailbox to say “thank you.” We’ve seen other social posts where people have created a supply cart for service deliveries, or have fully decorated their door to show appreciation. Essential workers include the ones who are taking care of the everyday services that keep your world running smoothly, which includes trash pick up, mail delivery, food + product delivery, and more. Since you can’t always say thank you face to face (hello, physical distancing!), what are some other ways you can show them you appreciate them? One campaign to follow for ideas is #thanksfordelivering.
  5. Check-in with Your Service Providers: As we hunker down for the long haul of sheltering-in-place, it’s becoming clear which services we rely on for self-care and performing at our best. Who wouldn’t love a professional haircut and a relaxing massage right about now? But those services are somehow deemed non-essential and those businesses are temporarily closed. That likely means that your favorite hairstylist, massage therapists, esthetician, physical therapist, or personal trainer may not have an income right now. Check-in with them.

5 Ways to Support Community with Your Money

  1. Donate: Fund organizations that are helping in a way that best aligns with you. For example, Lolita is sponsoring non-profits that support people of color: HBCU.vc, SoGal Foundation, Wonder Women Tech, and Techqueria. Other non-profits to consider: those that provide food to those in need, like The Maryland Food Bank, Feeding America, and Mera Collective; or the Weill Cornell.
  2. Adopt a restaurant or a family: If you’re ordering take-out or delivery on the regular, consider consistently ordering from your local favorite brunch place and giving shout-outs on social media. Looking for something with more heart? Through the 1K Project, you can adopt a family impacted by COVID-19 and support them with $1K a month for 3 months.
  3. Prepay for services: Are you able to prepay for future services/sessions from service providers, like hairstylists and pedicurists, that you can use later? You can prepay them via Venmo or purchase a gift card. Curbside Baltimore is a small business initiative of the Downtown Partnership of Baltimore to encourage the community to purchase a gift card to local restaurants and retailers.
  4. Remember to Tip: We shouldn’t need to say this — Always tip your food delivery person. Getting curbside pickup or carryout? Add a tip when checking out — These businesses are risking their health to feed communities. Not planning on eating out, but able to offer a nice tip for the meal or service you would have had if things were open? Consider visiting your favorite restaurant’s website to see if they’ve added a donate button, or contributing to a local list like Baltimore Virtual Tip Jar to support unemployed service providers such as servers, hostesses, baristas, bartenders. We are still very much in the habit of believing that every little bit helps, and taking care of the people who are taking care of you can go a long way.
  5. Provide Tangible Resources: Many healthcare workers are finding themself with limited Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Consider supporting the local maker community who are tirelessly 3D printing and laser cutting PPE for healthcare workers. Shervonne purchased and donated face shields, made by professional maker Todd Blatt of Custom 3D Stuff and Baltimore Node to her friends & family who are healthcare personnel working the frontlines. Space is another need. As healthcare workers and first responders work the frontlines and travel to support hard hit cities, they need lodging that allows them to be close to their jobs at medical centers, while safely distancing from their own families. If you have an open rental property or a separate unit in your home, considered making it available to medical personnel in need. Airbnb is now facilitating frontline stays for COVID-19 responders.

Baltimorean list of organizations supporting the community amid COVID-19

  1. Maryland Food Bank — Together we can diminish the immediate effects of hunger through access to nutritious food while helping Marylanders build long-term paths to self-sufficiency.
  2. Baltimore Corps — They are recruiting for COVID-19 response roles to help with the homeless population in Baltimore
  3. Business Volunteers of Maryland — Business Volunteers Maryland is a nonprofit organization that strengthens the community by making strategic connections between people, businesses and nonprofits.
  4. Franciscan Center of Baltimore — Feeding those in need.
  5. St. Vincent de Paul — Providing shelter and food to those in need within the Baltimore community
  6. Salvation Army of Central Maryland — Delivering meals to senior citizens across Maryland.
  7. Station North Tool Library — Helping by sewing masks.
  8. Baltimore Neighbors Network — Is making calls, listening to people, providing mental health ambassadors to the Baltimore community.
  9. Volunteering Untapped — This organization amasses volunteers to support local organizations helping the community.
  10. FeedNurses.com — Local software company 64Robots started the site to collect donations towards meals for Baltimore based healthcare workers from local restaurants.
  11. Baltimore Robotics Center & Code in the Schools — Two organizations who have teamed up with the local community to facilitate laptops and tablets donations and provide high-speed internet access to local students affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
  12. Heart of the Park — Harbor Park Garage teamed up with Pierpoint Restaurant to support the Baltimore community by providing free meals to anyone in need.

Find more ways to help in the Baltimore community here, here, and here.

About the authors

Jess Watson runs Points North Studio, is a pioneer of remote working, and is always in search of great tacos.

Lolita Taub is an early-stage investor and an operator who enjoys matcha lattes and lives in Baltimore.

Shervonne Cherry is an entrepreneurial ecosystem builder who cultivates community through coworking and is a diehard NPR listener.

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Jessica Watson

Jessica Watson

Jessica is a writer and the CEO of Points North Studio. She has traveled and worked remotely from several countries, loves volunteering, and eating good tacos.