Looking on the bright side: community and neighborhood

Angela Wong, Reporter

Our current shelter-in-place order, which has infiltrated seemingly every corner of our lives, is undoubtedly a stressor that has caused much financial and mental anguish. This does not necessarily mean that we’re alone. In fact, now more than ever, the local Palo Alto community has come together to show support for our essential workers and to spread hope and love to everyone affected. Economic and emotional support, of course, is a unified effort, and there are a myriad of ways that you can show resilience and empathy amid these unprecedented times.
Checking in with neighbors and loved ones is a great way to help out your community. This can be done in quite a few ways: try calling or texting your relatives to make sure they’re staying safe and have someone to talk to, especially during these dreary times indoors. They may not outwardly show it, but friends could also be going through a rough time, so taking a few minutes out of your day to let them know you’re thinking of them could be immensely helpful.
Additionally, there are many people in our community who are especially vulnerable to the virus—pregnant women and the elderly, for example—so consider asking if they need help, whether it be taking their dog on their daily walks (you’d be helping out someone in need while taking a much-needed walk outside) or shopping for groceries (and, while following safety precautions, leaving the necessary goods on their doorstep).
While there are many ways to become more involved, it can be difficult to know where to start. Consider, then, joining Gunn Cares: a Facebook group of like-minded students, alumni and local community members who share safe and generous ways to help out those who may also be going through a difficult time amid the shelter-in-place. This includes tutoring students who need help in understanding their online school work or studying for their upcoming standardized tests, writing inspirational notes and letters to front-line workers or senior citizens and donating to raise money to support essential workers.
Certain businesses have also contributed to bringing the local community together by offering free goods to essential workers and citizens. Starbucks, for one, had offered free coffee to health care workers and police officers for months. Krispy Kreme had likewise offered a free dozen donuts to anyone who works in the medical sector. And Headspace, a meditation service, is still offering a free subscription and full access to its libraries of meditations for everyone who needs a moment of relaxation and mindfulness amid these difficult times.
Lately, there have also been various community-wide acts of appreciation for the essential workers that risk their lives for the safety of ours each and every day they step outside of their homes. In lateate April, for instance, public safety officers from across Silicon Valley formed “clapping zones” to cheer for the doctors and health care workers at Stanford Hospital and Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital. In fact, various “clapping zones” and gratuitous, celebratory drive-by parades have become increasingly common amid the shelter-in-place order.
If you’re still wondering how to contribute, remember that every act of kindness, both big and small, is important. If you’d rather stay safe indoors and not have direct contact with others, consider making a few signs of appreciation for essential workers and community members that you can place in your front yard or by your door. For the last several months, we’ve shown collective resilience in the face of fear, panic and danger. Let’s continue finding the courage within ourselves, even in the bleakest and loneliest of times, to fight the virus together—six feet at a time.