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We’re all scared, stressed and in need of extra support right now—here are some ways to both give it and get it: 

 

Many Philadelphia college students are still struggling to figure out where to go and how to get there—you can help by filling our CSN’s form here. If you’re a student in need of support, fill out this form.

Plug in with Neighbors Helping Neighbors and find out how you can help, or get help: Philly Mutual Aid.

Get involved with the Poor People’s Army and sign up to help support folks who are being hit especially hard during the pandemic. If you need help, email [email protected]

Can you offer to help a healthcare worker with childcare? Do you need care for you kids? Learn more here

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Small acts of citizenship

It’s always the right time to be a good citizen. But there’s no doubt we need it now more than ever. Luckily, we are Philly. And we do good well.

We want to hear about acts of good citizenship that you’ve witnessed—or performed—in the days of coronavirus. Read on for inspiration and send your tips here.

And thank you. Whatever kindness you bestow today is much needed.

 

Guest Commentary: Behind the Masks

A Philadelphia mother reflects on the hidden lives we cannot know in this time of coronavirus crisis

Guest Commentary: Behind the Masks

A Philadelphia mother reflects on the hidden lives we cannot know in this time of coronavirus crisis

Every morning I check the temperature of the world to find out if the fever has broken. Then I walk the dog and see things I haven’t seen before. Like the Prayer of St. Francis spinning through an electronic billboard. “Make me a channel of your peace. Bring light where there is darkness. We are open. Buy some fresh, hot pizza.”

I see a medical mask in front of one of the houses of manicured lawns. The mask tells a story, but which one? An older couple lives in this house. Have they just returned from a risky trip to ShopRite? Or, is he a retired doctor who has volunteered to go back to work? Or, is he on a ventilator? Will she wear this mask when she returns to the nursing home to say goodbye through a window?

I hear the usual sirens that often follow gunfire. But maybe this siren I’m hearing signals that someone has just started gasping for air. Maybe the caller tried hard to avoid this trip but now there is just not enough air.

The mask in front of the houses of sunken porches tells a story, but which one? Maybe this is the home of a “poorly paid” home health care aid, like the workers described in a Washington Post article. (How did I forget the home health care Do Somethingaids? I keep forgetting people. I almost forgot the food trucks until I thought of the lovely woman near Broad and Spring Garden streets who gave me a free smoothie when I had no cash.) According to my skim of that article, though, the home health care aides don’t have masks. (Can that possibly be correct?) So maybe one of the workers from the City Avenue Target dropped it on his way to stock the shelves before dawn.

Maybe a single-mother nurse comes home to her two young girls. She discards the mask and puts a fresh one on before she goes inside this house with no yard. They want so much from her, and rightly so; they’ve been on their own all day. But she can only sit on the sofa with a half-smile wishing for a few moments of peace.

On these walks, I also hear new sounds like the delicate click of my dog’s nails against the pavement. And a deep quiet that somehow coexists within the celebration of the birds.

Which reminds me of the conversation with an Australian acquaintance who told Custom Halome about the flights and quarantines of recent months as he navigated his father’s death. When our talk turned to the fires, he told me about miles of scorched hills and about the exploding gum trees—the native trees that burst into flames when the air gets too hot. They don’t need to be touched by fire to become fire. (Should I even be walking this dog? Because I do feel like a kind of gum tree that might catch or spread the virus just by being in this air.) As if to comfort me, he says that there were green shoots all over the black hills.

On these walks, I also hear new sounds like the delicate click of my dog’s nails against the pavement. And a deep quiet that somehow coexists within the celebration of the birds.

I hear the usual sirens that often follow gunfire. (If you live on my street, you have to listen very carefully to know just how much gunfire exists, but I know that less than a mile away there is no escape.) But maybe this siren I’m hearing as I pass the playground with the yellow tape signals that someone has just started gasping for air. Maybe the caller tried hard to avoid this trip but now there is just not enough air.

Read MoreAnd now the ambulance is here. It is headed to Temple. The doctor, who is a close relative of mine, doesn’t know if a gunshot or virus victim will come in next, but it doesn’t matter to him because really he is thinking of his wife who is not well. But maybe the ER is the place where his mind takes a rest from that. Maybe things are not what they seem.

I turn a corner and look toward the other side of the street. A woman wearing a mask is getting into her car. We wave. We are pretty far from each other, more like 66 than 6 feet, but still, I can feel invisible currents of light and love, just like those that washed over me from the pizza shop prayer, moving between and beyond our distanced bodies.

Maureen Boland is a ninth grade English teacher at Parkway Center City Middle College.

Header photo courtesy Maureen Boland

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