We are at our best when things are at their worst. And despite fear, worry, and even panic, that is often the case.
These are unprecedented times. Unlike the often short-term preparations for projected bad weather, unlike the “light at the end of the seasonal tunnel” for the normal flu season, this Coronavirus, or COVID-19, has America, and the world, facing weeks, if not months, of worry.
Not only are we worried about the virus itself, and its impact on the health of our friends and families, the economy is in dire straits. People are being advised to stay home. Schools are shut down. Hospitals are being stretched to their limits. Delivery drivers and truckers are moving at warp speed to help get you and your local grocery stores what you need. And we all have to work together to get through this.
But, in the meantime, there are things you can do…some of which might cost you a little, some of which are free… all of which will make an impact.
Services and businesses are hurting
While we all know, personally, the economic impact of our jobs being put on hold, of our inability to find products we have usually taken for granted, the entire world we are accustomed to has been, in effect, furloughed. Restaurants are being asked to be take-out or drive-through only. Malls and shops are closed. Broadway has gone dark, and local arts venues, museums, book stores, concert halls and the like have closed their doors for the next weeks…or months.
Think of the “trickle down” effect of cancelled weddings, events, meetings on the service industries and local businesses. Your local florist may realize the majority of annual sales from weddings. That restaurant you love so much may have had to cancel graduation parties. This pan-demic has created pan-ic for survival.
OK – so how can you help, you ask?
As we said before, some of these ideas cost nothing other than a few minutes of your time. A few ideas involve money you have already spent. And even small donations will help with the others.
- Take a few minutes to write reviews of your favorite small or local businesses on their Facebook or Instagram pages, TripAdvisor, Yelp! or Google Review. Let people know you have done it, so when businesses can open again, they will have had positive reviews to boost clients/customers.
- Let your neighbors know that the local pizzeria is offering free meals to kids out of school, or that your local pharmacy is offering free delivery of medications to the home-bound. Maybe that lady who was going to alter your dress for the now-cancelled gala is sewing masks for healthcare providers. If you know one of your local businesses is doing something to help the community during this difficult time, spread the word.
- If you happen to be a small business owner or entrepreneur, spread the word through your own social media marketing and your blog to let the community know what you can do to help. Offer consolation, a cheery note, a FaceTime or Skype visit with a favorite client…maybe even a “post-virus discount” on your services, if you can, for “when we are all over this thing”.
Already Spent the Money?
So, let’s say you already bought tickets to the opera or the theater and the venue has been forced to close. Remember that most arts organizations rely on ticket sales for a huge percentage of their operating revenues.
Government and foundation funding were already cutting back. And now, with the deterioration of the stock market and the probable shortage of donor funding for the foreseeable future…arts venues being put into the position of issuing refunds to ticket-holders can drastically and negatively impact the venue’s ability to re-open their doors when this is over. So consider donating your tickets back to them and not requesting a refund…it might make a huge difference later.
Spend a little – get a lot?
Think about it. Museums are offering online tours of their galleries. Opera houses and theaters are streaming performances. There are people reading books aloud online. Schools are offering free classes. How about donating? Think about the cost of that ticket to the museum or to the show.
If you can, send a donation to the businesses that are working so hard to keep you and your families entertained, occupied or educated while you are forced to stay home. Don’t take them for granted. They are trying to make your lives better during this difficult time…see how you can pay it back, or pay it forward with whatever resources you can muster up. It could make a huge difference later!
On behalf of all of us on the Grow the Dream team – stay safe, stay healthy and…stay calm. We will all get through this. It may take weeks or months, but history has proven that when things are bleak, there is light…that when times are tough, there is hope. And by helping one another, by going that extra mile, we will prove once again (even with social distancing) that we are at our best when things seem to be at their worst.