Welcome to community engagement in action. In this and future stories, we highlight a few of the ways our community is stepping up in a time of uncertainty and newfound unity of purpose.
The COVID-19 pandemic has radically altered modern life. Getting a haircut in Washington (I knew I shouldn't have waited) in March of 2020 is impossible lest you do it yourself or live with someone you trust to do the job. Going out to dinner means finding a drive-thru or a restaurant that offers curbside pick up. Your home is now your movie theater, your amusement park, your office and your classroom. What was true yesterday may not be true today and so the earth beneath our feet starts to crumble. The uneven ground we find ourselves on seems to shift a little more each day.
Or does it?
On the surface, it appears our shared sense of community has taken a hit. Protecting each other right now means staying away from each other. Still, the uncertainty and stress of the time has also created something beautiful. Before COVID-19 many of us lived in our devices. We always seemed to be looking for something we couldn't find in the analog world. Well, we're still in our devices but it looks like we found what were searching for: us. People are metaphorically reaching out across the digital divide with offers of assistance or conversation. The same is true in the non-screen world where neighbors are stopping to chat (while staying six feet apart, of course).
This isn't to say that COVID-19 is a good thing. Rather, the ground may give but we'll be here to catch each other. Social media is still full of awful but there's also concern, love and empathy in spades. People are organizing to get each other necessities and pushing to make sure the most vulnerable get what they need.
Case in point, a group of community members banded together to create a list of resources. The list is organized by county and includes links to school meal programs and food banks as well as links to information for parents who need help keeping their kids busy or for small business owners who are looking for assistance. The list is updated daily and you can contribute. If you have a resource you'd like to add simply fill out this Google Form.
From the list: UW Tacoma Resources for Students
The Pantry: Provides free supplemental, nutritious, and culturally relevant food as well as hygiene items.
Counseling and Psychological Services: CSP is offfering teletherapy services via Zoom for the Spring 2020 quarter.
Fransican Virtual Urgent Care: Virtual care visits are included with UW Tacoma's partnership with CHI Fransican.
Emergency Aid: Emergency Aid assists students who are experiencing unexpected financial hardships that may disrupt their education or prevent them from earning their UW degree.
John Burkhardt, UW Tacoma Communications, 253-692-4536 or firstname.lastname@example.org