How My Daughter Convinced Me We Can Help {Ep 107}

helping during covid-19 crisis


My Aunt Jane sent us five masks a few weeks ago (see photo). When the masks came, after we decided who gets which one and did a little modeling, I told the kids that Aunt Jane has also sent masks to people living on a Native American reservation who were in need, and to a facility where workers make ventilators and didn’t have proper protective gear. She has sewn hundreds of masks, and thus helped hundreds of people. We talked about how she’s helping during this COVID-19 crisis.

Marilee had a visceral reaction: “I want to help people like that!”

Helping During COVID-19 Crisis

The problem is, I don’t sew. And even if I were inspired to learn how, we wouldn’t be able to help any time soon. We don’t have a lot of time. I don’t feel like I have many practical abilities we can use to help others. 

But Marilee was insistent. So we started talking about helping during the COVID-19 crisis. We started talking about all the kids who aren’t able to learn very much right now. Here in our house, we have a fairly stable internet connection, laptop devices for each child, and schools that have a plan for internet-based distance learning. It’s not the same as going to school in person, but they are all still learning and growing and connecting with teachers and peers. 

On the same day that the masks arrived, I heard from multiple friends whose states had just announced kids wouldn’t go back to school this year. My friends were incensed that so many children would not have access to teachers because they didn’t have access to the internet or devices for learning. I also read reports about how we may be in and out of school for the entirety of the 2020-2021 school year. I was struck anew by the injustice inherent in knowing that our kids could be in and out of school for the next 15 months and continue to learn (including our daughter Penny, who has Down syndrome), when other kids in towns nearby would have far less instruction, access to teachers, and opportunities to learn and grow.

Brainstorming How to Help

Marilee, William, and I talked about it, and I wondered out loud whether we might be able to do something about that digital divide. Maybe we could use the resources we have at our disposal to help provide funding, or to help purchase Chromebooks, or to help set up tutoring systems. Maybe we could use our background in education and connection to people who could give money to help. 

So for the past week, the three of us have met for half an hour each day to try to understand what education looks like right now in our little corner of Connecticut. We’ve mapped out the different school systems by number of kids and funds spent per student. We’ve contacted our state and local representatives. We’ve read the CT Digital Equity Toolkit and set up a meeting to talk with the Executive Director of Educational Technology for our state. We’ve mentioned our efforts to a few friends, and every one of them has asked to be a part of helping out. 

Using Our Heads, Our Hearts, and Our Hands

I mentioned to our kids that we are trying to use our heads, our hearts, and our hands to help people. We’re learning about a problem (heads), connecting to people and making sure we understand the need and how to humbly offer whatever we can to help serve that need (hearts), and then we will take action (hands). I don’t know what will happen, but I believe we have been given this little piece of work to do to help share the great gifts of stability and education that we have been given in our household. 

I am never going to be someone who sews like my Aunt Jane. I often feel helpless and hopeless in light of the great needs of the world out there. But I am grateful to Marilee for pushing me to wonder whether we could use our heads, hearts, and hands to share some of our gifts with other kids. 

On today’s episode of the Love is Stronger Than Fear podcast, I talk about this story in the context of Philippians 2:12-18 and I talk more about how to respond to social problems using our heads, our hearts, and our hands. 

Also, as a bonus companion to this episode, I recorded an audio version of my ebook, Head, Heart, Hands. You can listen below:

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Show Notes:

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Hi, I’m Amy Julia.

I write about faith, family, disability, and privilege.

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