The uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) has hit us all like a ton of bricks, particularly over the past week, as each day brings a new development.
Social distancing, flattening the curve, self-isolation are the new buzzwords. I now plan my day around the PM’s daily briefing, which includes a reminder on appropriate hand washing and coughing protocols and the “Canadian way” of overcoming adversity.
As we settle in, it’s anyone’s guess as to how long it’ll be before life returns to “normal.”
It’s hard not to worry and wonder about health, jobs, businesses, personal finances and the economy. The impact on our mental health, as a result of the uncertainty and isolation, is for many as much of a challenge as facing the virus itself.
In the midst of all this, it's become clear: we’re all in this together, and by picking each other up we’ll come out the other end - together. This thought was eloquently and passionately presented by André Picard in his March 15, 2020 Opinion piece in the Globe & Mail titled Canada, here's how we are going to survive this pandemic together. Picard begins with a quote attributed to the late Fred Rogers, aka Mr. Rogers: “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’”
As a mediator, I see myself as a helper. But, at times like these it’s the front line health workers (including personal support workers, lab technicians, pharmacists, nurses, doctors and public health officials), first responders (paramedics, firefighters and police) and the workers who maintain and operate our utilities, transport our supply of food and essential goods who are the real helpers.
I feel small by comparison.
This crisis presents a challenge for us all to play the part of helper. Help can come in many forms: a call to a friend or loved one who’s alone, the delivery of groceries or a meal to the elderly or sick, a smile as we pass someone (at a safe social distance, of course) on the sidewalk. Yesterday, on social media I saw a post from someone who is offering to pick up and drop off supplies (food, medicine, etc.) to people who are shut-in and unable to get out themselves due to their age or health. Amazing!
I’ve been asking myself: how can I be a helper?
I’m fortunate to have the opportunity to help people work through conflict and, while the need for social distancing for the foreseeable future makes in-person mediation a prohibitive health risk, like many of my colleagues, I will continue to offer mediation services through Zoom's online technology during the COVID-19 crisis. I have worked with the Zoom platform before and I’m ready and set to go with Zoom Pro. I’m confident that we can create an online experience that will replicate all of the benefits of an in-person mediation.
But, while mediation is what I do professionally and the services I offer helpful to those I serve, the real helping will come in what I can provide to others who are less fortunate and unable to work and look after their basic necessities of life. For every Zoom mediation booked I will donate 5% of my fee to two charities, the Fred Victor Centre and the Daily Bread Food Bank, because its the homeless and those living in poverty who are the most vulnerable to and hardest hit by COVID-19.
I encourage everyone to be a helper in whatever way they can at this challenging time. It’ll feel great and help us come out of this crisis together, stronger as a community.