Fred Rogers said, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”
America is full of helpers. And during times of crisis, the desire to help others is strongest. These months have brought unimaginable change to our workplaces, our homes, and of course, our schools.
Many parents are working on the frontlines or in essential fields, and with the closing of schools and some daycares, parents can be at a loss for childcare. Moms and Dads who once depended on school to provide breakfast and lunch are now worried if they can put a meal on the table.
And children may struggle with emotional uncertainty as their routines have been put on hold, they no longer see their teachers and friends, and their parents juggle work, homeschooling — and trying to remember how to multiply fractions or do long division.
Despite the challenging circumstances, and the dire headlines we read, there is still reason for hope in our country.
Loria Yeadon, president and CEO of YMCA Greater Seattle, leads one of more than 500 National YMCA facilities that have sanitized their gyms and converted them into socially distanced daycare centers.
First responders, healthcare workers and other essential employees can send children to the Seattle YMCA at no cost, and other families can pay $45 a day, or seek financial aid. The YMCA wants to ensure that no parent, in any city, who is exhausted from work, is at a loss for childcare.
In Maine, teacher Gretchen Lane reads a new book every single day, records it, and loads the video on YouTube.
Then she shares it on her Facebook page so parents of her second graders can cuddle up and bond with their child during a daily story-time. And since some of her students don’t have computer or internet access, she made sure her readings were available on a smartphone.
Andrea Restrepo is a 5th grade teacher in Charlotte, N.C.
When her students left school on Friday, March 13, none of them knew it would be their last day in the classroom. Andrea took swift action, calling on internet companies to install internet at her students’ homes so they could continue with their curriculum.
And she organized school supply, grocery and meal kits for families in need. Her school provided a video career fair to replace the in-person one students look forward to each spring.
Keara Williams, an English teacher who works in the Los Angeles Unified district, follows up with students who aren’t responding or showing up for their online classes.
She’s been resourceful. When she was unable to communicate with a Spanish-speaking mother of one of her students, Keara called her native Spanish-speaking grandmother to help translate via a three-way call.
And these are just a few of the hundreds of inspirational stories we hear. All around us, there are helpers. Some of them look like those we’ve recognized as heroes before — doctors, nurses, firefighters and police officers.
But we found that heroes can also be teachers, store managers sewing masks to fit children, principals who organize community car parades to show students they are still loved, or even a neighbor who picks up groceries so a mom can stay healthy at home with her newborn baby. Now is a great time to teach our children that everyone can be a hero.
When your children look back on the impact COVID-19 had on their lives, they won’t remember having frozen pizza three nights in a row, or that the laundry piled up for a week.
They’ll remember that you helped with homework and read to them; that you sat with them for dinner and listened to their concerns; that you had popcorn for movie night, drew with chalk on the sidewalk, or went for a family walk.
You can be the hero for your children. Love them, hug them, spend time with them, keep them safe, and tell them that sunny days will return again.