Physical distancing during the stay-at-home and safer-at-home phases of the COVID-19 quarantine didn’t mean complete isolation. Coloradans showed up to support each other in vital and beautiful ways. Just to name a few…
1. Showing Gratitude
A project launched by The David & Laura Merage Foundation, which has been supporting Colorado early childhood education for 18 years, is now serving healthcare workers and their children. On April 30, The Merage Mini Heroes Program delivered 500 custom boxes from Timbuk Toys, to young kids who are making a difficult sacrifice each time their parents go to work on the frontlines of the pandemic.
“These children are living a life they couldn’t have imagined, and the implications on their mental health are profound,” says Merage Foundations Vice President Sue Renner. “Our intention is to spark a bit of joy with these toys, and quite simply show these little ones how grateful we are that they are sharing their families with Coloradans in need.”
The late-April delivery to Saint Joseph Hospital and Denver Health is just the first step in what the project hopes is an expanded effort across Colorado, and an idea that sparks similar programs across the globe. Saint Joseph Hospital staff appreciate the support.
“We are so grateful for their consideration and responsiveness,” Leslie McKay, executive director of Saint Joseph Hospital Foundation, says. “We are so appreciative that the David and Laura Merage Foundation recognizes the children, the mini heroes, behind our caregivers. These young children are sharing their parents to protect Colorado.”
2. Creating Moments of Delight
From drive-by parades and rainbow window-decor to front-porch howls and teddy-bear hunts, neighborhoods worked together (but apart) to entertain, celebrate, and support each other. Sidewalk chalk gave kids a way to connect with their friends as they walked by. Elaborate chalk obstacle courses had kids (and grown-ups!) hopscotching, crab walking, and jumping through daily strolls.
3. Documenting the Moment
Artist, writer, and photographer Lucy Beaugard loves to capture “the moment,” even when that moment is about being confined close to home. Beaugard started gathering Denver folks on their porches to talk, smile, and dance, to create (from a safe distance) portraits of what quarantine life has been like. Singles, parents, kids, and pets joined this record of history, expressing the silly and emotional parts of getting through shelter-in-place.
In two weekends she photographed about 30 families, posting with the hashtag, #thedenverporchproject. Beaugard recommended a $5 donation so she could pay for gas getting all around town.
“I lost all my work in 48-hours and it’s really hard emotionally to bounce back from something like that,” she says. “It was a way to get out of the house and connect with and give back to the community that supported my career for the past five years.”
Beaugard hopes to bring all the subjects together for a group session once it’s safe to gather again.
4. Inspiring Students
When Daniel Bettinger, owner of Bettinger Photography, heard there was a need for consistent creative activities for kids during quarantine, he started a student photo contest. In partnership with Reed Art & Imaging and The Greenway Foundation, the contest presented new photography themes every Tuesday and Thursday through May, for which elementary, middle, and high school students could submit their works to win a professional print of their snapshots and the chance for a Visa gift card.
“The contest has inspired students as they work to complete their school year,” says Paige Robertson, a middle school art teacher for Cloverleaf Middle School in Douglas County School District. “When times are difficult, it definitely ‘takes a village,’ and I appreciated these community members and businesses coming together to create this contest as a way to support learning and art during this challenging time.”
Robertson had many students enter the contest, one of whom, a sixth grader, won first place in her category for the “Daily Life” theme. Her picture depicted a close-up action shot of someone washing their hands.
5. Supporting Hardest Hit Communities
On April 16, Soul2Soul Sisters, an organization that supports black women with programs relating to health and motherhood, launched a “Support Black Womxn-Owned Businesses” campaign to address disproportionate impacts COVID-19 has had on African Americans. Through emails, social media, and personal networks they’ve raised thousands of dollars each week.
“Many of [the business owners] have children,” says Briana Simmons, Black Maternal Health, Healing, & Joy Coordinator at Soul2Soul. “All of them mother our community in ways that Soul 2 Soul Sisters recognizes and supports.”
Donations have gone to photographers, wordsmiths, skin care developers, wellness providers, midwives and doulas, and the Young Aspiring Americans for Social & Political Activism group, headed by Janiece Mackey.
“These types of opportunities where we get support from our fellow black sistas means so much, and has such a major impact on not only me as a black female [executive director] and my soul, but also ripple effects into the entire organization and furthermore in partnership with our students, families, and elders that we are supporting in this time,” said Mackey in a thank-you video.
Soul2Soul adds eight additional businesses to this list every 2 weeks. Donate at soul2soulsisters.org/give.