Top Ten Ways to Strengthen Your Community (For Less) During the COVID-19 Quarantine
by Hayley Lydig and Erin Peterson
When a crisis happens, we tend to first look inward to make sure our proverbial ducks are in a row before we begin to look outward and remember that there is a whole community out there needing help. That first peek these days can be overwhelming, but when we have the opportunity to make the load a little lighter for people around us, it makes us feel better, too.
With so many businesses struggling, layoffs happening in record numbers and people living in fear, we know that times are tough for us all. In spite of that, we know that when we look right in front of us, we have two hands that are built for helping, and a home full of resources that can be put to great use. Much like our family members that came before us, we are able to pull up our bootstraps and figure out how to make an impact on a budget. From meals to making memories, we have the unique chance to give the most impactful gift of all - hope.
Here are some ideas that we hope can inspire you to think beyond your four walls (at a safe distance 6 ft or more, of course) and enable you to provide some relief within your community.
Writing notes and letters on real paper with a real pen. Seriously. Go straight-up 1800’s and break out that stationery gathering dust and put it to good use. It doesn’t have to be fancy. Better yet, write al-fresco if you can. Fresh air, sunshine and writing go surprisingly well together. Catch up on thank-you notes from a recent event, or write unprompted ones to people who have made an impact in your life. You don’t need to do any more than one or two per day. Mail to people who need a lift, and don’t forget to turn that stamp upside down (it’s an old-fashioned way of expressing of love and affection).
Send to nursing homes/VA hospitals so that people who are living in isolation are given hope and encouragement. These groups already suffer from isolation this new time is intensifying, so a personal note is especially meaningful. If you REALLY want to make an impact, call or email a local home to find out which residents haven’t had many visitors and are in particular need of extra loving.
Providence St. Joseph Care Center - Spokane
17 E. 8th Avenue Spokane, WA 99202
Hospice of Spokane
367 E 7th Ave, Spokane, WA 99202
608 E Holland Ave, Spokane, WA 99218
4815 N Assembly St, Spokane, WA 99205
Buying local has never been more important. If you were already planning on hiring a service or purchasing an item, look around to see if there is another place in our community to buy from. Clothes? Cleaning? Florist? When making your shopping list, try to refrain from just purchasing from big conglomerates, especially if the item is the same price.
If it feels overwhelming, just pick just one business you can impact with $20. If everyone did this, it would save some people’s entire livelihood. Sub out buying bread at the store for a local bread maker. Get supplies for dinner at a local butcher. Order flowers to be delivered at home. You have the power to impact one family. Making a meal or sharing your hoarded goods is more helpful!
Self-care through fresh air! Going for a short walk or hike is a great way to boost your endorphins and help to recharge you, as you need to be your best self to help others. Of course, you’ll want to keep a distance of 6 feet from other people, so be careful to obey social distancing. Need a little social encouragement? Start a walking club! Schedule times every day to create a sense of normalcy around outings to boost mental health. Inland Northwest destination ideas: Rocks of Sharon, Bowl and Pitcher, Liberty Lake Loop, Manito Park, High Drive, Riverfront Park, Lake Coeur d’Alene…. the possibilities are endless.
Don’t forget to actually talk to people. Just because we are distancing ourselves physically doesn’t mean we have to do so emotionally, too. Reach out directly to high-risk neighbors and friends- can you shop for them? Can you cook for them? Do they need help in their homes because their normal aid is not available? Prepare a meal for a neighbor who is struggling and leave it on their porch. Help a neighbor with yard work - it’s spring and it’ll be harder than ever for the elderly to leave their homes and put that extra stress on their bodies. Of course, do this from a distance maybe via a note?
Offer childcare for a friend/neighbor so they can give time to their jobs, shop without extra hands, or get some quality me-time. Drop off an arrangement of simple flowers/greenery to doorsteps of the people you care about. It’s an easy way to make people smile. It can be as simple as an old vase or mason jar and some clippings from your yard, or you can buy a little bundle of inexpensive flowers from the store to put in small containers. Ding dong ditch the delivery for an extra giggle.
Get connected digitally - this is the perfect time to dive headfirst into social media. Learn a new skill. Do a TikTok dance with your loved ones at home. Do the story you always wanted. Don’t be scared to share. Add the people you lost touch with and let them know you are thinking about them.
Join a community on Facebook to connect with other people in your area to learn about happenings. Don’t rely on just the news feed, as you’ll get overwhelmed. Find a great niche. (Guild Creatives, Spokane Talks, I Love Spokane Because… , Spokane Guild - Northwest Food and Culture, Spokane Valley Community, check out the groups tab on Facebook!
Start a neighborhood group on Facebook if you don’t already have one to share resources and provide an open line of communication. (We have one for our HOA which has been so helpful!) Netflix watch parties are a great way to relax at home and still remain connected to your friends (and check out this article in Oprah Magazine).
Insta-Stories can be a great source of face-to-face interaction. Follow some great local Influencers to get inspired and energized. Try searching hashtags on the explore page of Instagram to see who is posting about your interests. Examples to check out - #TravelGram, #Zoomies, #SpokaneFood, #SpokaneGram, #KetoRecipes, #SpokaneDogMom, #IceCreamLover, #BestHikes
Craft for a cause. Doing a little Google search on organizations that accept crafted items If you have some art supplies that are sitting in a closet, now is their time to shine. Sew or cut hankies for the homeless population to protect their faces. They are particularly at risk due to living in close quarters. Use what you have on hand to make something that supports/encourages people with an uplifting message - especially to local non-profits that are particularly hard hit during this crisis. Pinterest is FILLED with ideas. Knit socks, hats, stockings for cold months. It’s always a good time to provide for others! Painting rocks for locals to find when you hide them on a trail! It’s a small way to brighten someone’s day - especially when we will hopefully be spending more time outdoors. The group Spokane Rocks can give you some great ideas! Make activity kits for local kids with extra craft supplies. - great dropping off at churches to be distributed to families.
Organize that house, then donate wisely! Marie Kondo your life like crazy, friends. It’ll make you feel better, AND it can benefit people in the highest need in our city. Think about who will benefit most before just dumping it off at Goodwill. Educate your kids on those less fortunate and have a day of giving driving to drop off donations, and make an outing of it. Gather blankets, socks, basic needs for organizations to support the homeless at this time.
Old diapers can go to Vanessa Behan Crisis Nursery.
Make supply kits to pass out to homeless (sandwich, water bottle, small hand sanitizer, kind note) - these can go to Blessings Under the Bridge.
Union Gospel Mission can use clothes for those now looking for jobs.
Project Beauty Share is collecting all kinds of beauty items to donate to shelters.
Teen & Kid Closet is a great place to donate kids clothes.
Give back and gift. Offering excess items you’ve hoarded (I’m looking at you, crazy over-buyers) and offer them up to people in your circle for free. It can be as simple as putting a folding table in your front yard with a few items that are in demand.
Share your strengths. Use and donate to free community services and entertainment. It could be anything! Silly messages, educational videos, inspiring talks from the heart - it’s totally up to you. You can make a few Little Library donations for books that kids can read! Teens especially. My boys had to give all their books back at school because of the closure and they are avid readers. Trade board games and puzzles with another family to make for an exciting game night. Offer your services to people digitally. Local painters are sharing their art - Jesse Pierpoint is hosting live painting events, and it’s a therapeutic way to Musicians - hold a living room concert. There are so many ways we can benefit from the gifts and skills of one another.
Be the hands and feet of caring. If you can, consider volunteering for a local organization that is in high need. For those who are not in contact with the immunocompromised and are prepared to assist others, you can volunteer in person at organizations that are still serving the public. If you can’t provide physical support, you can always ask them what items they are in most need of and add those to your donation list, or even offer to work remotely. Our nonprofit community organizations need us now more than ever before. Places to volunteer in Spokane:
Call a local or rural food bank and see what help they need. It’s a practical and immediate way to provide a BIG impact for those families and individuals suddenly out of work.
Check out this list of local food banks to find one near you.
Valley Real Life has a drive-through food bank open at the following locations:
Barker Monday - Thursday 8-4pm &
Otis Orchards - Tuesday - Friday 9-12 and 3-6pm.
Make a meal for a shelter- Hope House and Crosswalk are reliant on these meals
Crosswalk Contact: Phone: 509.838.6596
Hope House Phone: 509.455.2886
Viality - The demand on local blood banks right now is unprecedented with so many people in isolation. With exceptional cleanliness, the providers working to ensure that blood supplies are fully stocked are doing invaluable work.
Quickly and easily make an appointment here.
Let's get out there (safely) and keep our city #spokanestrong.
About the Authors:
L- Hayley of Hayley Lydig Events combined her passion for community and event planning into a one of a kind business. Helping is her love language. Whether it is a non-profits with fundraising or local businesses with gatherings, creating brand recognition through experiences is her jam. A Spokane native, you will find her searching for the perfect chocolate chip cookie as often as she can.
R - Erin Peterson of Guild Creative works as a content crafter, digital strategist, & social media guru for rad brands that have something important to say. She creates copy that shows off what you do in a way that sells because it starts a meaningful, real conversation, and shows her deep love of Spokane and its citizens.