Shenandoah University Director of Civic Engagement Keith Jones Pomeroy offers his advice on how you can do something good for those around you while keeping health and safety in mind.
In this period of uncertainty and anxiety, we have an opportunity to find new ways to care for ourselves as well as others in our community.
Here are a few suggestions on how our Shenandoah community can be more civically engaged right now:
The upcoming weeks, and maybe months, are going to be difficult, but one of the best ways to avoid spreading COVID-19 is by staying at home, avoiding gatherings, and limiting face-to-face interactions. Follow all guidelines coming out from the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and the White House. Remember, this isn’t just about protecting you, it’s about protecting our communities.
Though you can’t connect face-to-face with many people, stay in touch with your friends, family, and community through email, text, phone calls, snail mail, and video chats. Take the time to share your appreciation of others.
Donate Money or Resources
There are a number of organizations who are dealing with vulnerable populations — the elderly, immuno-compromised, income-insecure and food-insecure. Think about donating to your local food bank, Area Agency on Aging, health care facilities, etc. Donate online, or call ahead to figure out how to do this most efficiently and safely.
If you’re going to go out for groceries or supplies, try and support local businesses, and don’t hoard items! Go online and buy gift cards from restaurants that you can use later. The funds you spend now will help businesses stay afloat in this time of uncertainty.
The American Red Cross is facing severe blood shortages. They are working on ensuring safe, efficient ways to donate blood. Contact the American Red Cross to find a donation center near you.
Volunteer (when safe)
Many businesses are closed, but there are many organizations that need to stay open (residential facilities, nursing homes, health care facilities, food banks, etc). Look up local organizations that are most in need of volunteers. If you feel that you can do this without compromising your safety or the safety of others, then lend a hand. We will be compiling a list of different volunteer opportunities in Winchester for those near the main campus.
Times like these highlight both the strengths and assets as well as the weaknesses and failings of our civic structures. Learn about what makes your community and our democracy strong. Also, learn about what could be better. Contact your local and state representatives and let them know what’s working and what isn’t. Advocate for those who are going to be most affected by this.
Times of challenge and struggle give us the space to live into our ideals. We are a community that values compassion, respect, advocacy and justice. Let’s embody those ideals wherever we are and however we can.”
Keith Jones Pomeroy | Director of Civic Engagement
For more ideas on being engaged, contact Keith Jones Pomeroy, director of civic engagement, at email@example.com.