When we closed up the office as the pandemic unfolded, I brought home one of my favorite poems, “Small Kindnesses” by Danusha Laméris, the Poet Laureate of Santa Cruz County, California. Packing it up felt more final than I cared to admit at the time, but I’m glad to have it near me.
Here are some lines that fill me with melancholy and hope.
. . . Mostly we don’t want to harm each other.We want to be handed our cup of coffee hot,
and to say thank you to the person handing it. To smile
at them and for them to smile back. For the waitress
to call us honey when she sets down the bowl of clam chowder,
and for the driver in the red pick-up truck to let us pass.
We have so little of each other, now. So far
from tribe and fire. Only those brief moments of exchange.
What if they are the true dwelling of the holy, these
fleeting temples we make together when we say, “Here,
have my seat,” “Go ahead – you first,” “I like your hat.”
“What if they are the true dwelling of the holy, these fleeting temples we make together” – I love those words.
Which brings me to an effort volunteers and small businesses are making together with Stand in support of communities of color on the South Side of Chicago hit hard by the pandemic. Black Chicagoans account for half of all coronavirus cases in the city and more than 70% of deaths, despite making up 30% of the population.
You can help save lives by joining us in this effort as we give cloth face masks to families and educators in these neighborhoods.
There are such heroes stepping up. Karen, a graphic designer, keeps bringing over batches of colorful masks she has sewn. Peggy, a retired pediatric nurse, is making hundreds of masks with the help of volunteers coordinated by Eve. Jae converted her family-owned business into a mask-manufacturing operation called Happy Masks – all while still running her law firm. Lisa introduced me to Denimcratic owner/designer Gabby, who stepped up immediately. Jennifer and her children Hayden and Grace are the distribution operation – they pack and ship out masks daily.
Such incredible acts of kindness.
The packages go directly to the homes of families and staff of schools Stand knows through our family engagement and community organizing. Each package contains five reusable cloth masks, along with census and health/safety information, all prepared with love and care.
Our goal is ambitious – to distribute 3,000 masks free of charge; our ability to do so depends on fundraising.
Will you make a tax-deductible donation in support of our work to help those living and working in the hardest hit areas of Chicago?
Neighborhoods like the ones where these masks are going have diminished access to adequate care – which underlines the importance of prevention and safety measures to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Join us – for the sake of these families and teachers, for the health care workers and essential service providers serving these hard-hit and historically vulnerable communities, and for yourself – because COVID-19 knows no borders.
P.S.: Today is #GivingTuesdayNow, a great way to make a difference and support our work.