Looking for a way to connect with people and lift their spirits in this time of “physical distancing,” my wife put up some Christmas lights in our front window. Not long after, she added red lights in the shape of a heart. In the back window, the one facing an alley and neighbors across the way, she put up three paper hearts.
A few days after that, she noticed a neighbor echoed her message with three paper hearts of her own.
Sometimes, it’s the little things.
For the first time in … ever … I’m working from home, and while my work situation has been turned upside down, I feel fortunate to be working and having (on most days) a direction. A number of my colleagues have been furloughed or seen their hours reduced, and number of our sister papers such as the Forks Forum and those in Kitsap County have halted production.
If you’re weary of hearing about the novel coronavirus, I join you in your frustration. I’m weary of writing about it. I’d much rather be giving updates on local sports, information on the big lead-up to the annual Sequim Irrigation Festival and features from fascinating locals with engaging, personal stories.
The virus, it seems, has worked its way into every niche and corner of the fabric of our lives. So for now, and hopefully less and less each week, it’s COVID-19, 24/7.
I suppose I might seem a bit mad to tell people to get away from the news, even temporarily, but for your mental health, please break away from the headlines. As Dr. Darria Long Gillespie noted recently, “Sitting at home does not mean you are helpless or passive. You are actively fighting this epidemic. It’s the number one thing you can do to not to become (the) next patient. But while you are physically distancing, don’t do so emotionally. Reach out, connect, provide comfort.”
Helping hands, funds
Aside from “What happens if I get sick?,” some may be wondering, “What can I do to help?” For many of you, since you may have had plenty of time to think about it at home, you’re already active and engaged in some sort of effort, helping our community’s health care workers, the local businesses struggling to hang on, the neighbor or friend who’s unable to get to the store for medicine or the roll of TP.
For those still on the lookout for how to help, there are plenty of opportunities. Show support for local businesses through a trio of efforts with links to each on Facebook and at the Sequim-Dungeness Chamber of Commerce’s website (sequimchamber.com). They include: #SequimStrong, created by Castell Insurance to encourage residents to keep shopping local (a related sponsor T-shirt helps fund paying local students’ unpaid school lunch debt); #ChooseLocalSequim, created by local businesses to support local businesses; and #ChooseClallamFirst, created by the Clallam Economic Development Corporation to help business entities collaborate.
Home Fund, re-envisioned
Want to help those in the community who are among the most vulnerable? You can do that. There are a bunch of local individuals and groups coming together to help our neighbors, many of which you’ve read or will read in these pages. Here are a couple of efforts with wide-spread benefit for the community:
Our sister paper, the Peninsula Daily News, has repurposed the Peninsula Home Fund temporarily to channel donations to Olympic Community Action Programs (OlyCAP) to help those who need a little help because of COVID-19 precautions.
All donations will be made to the Peninsula Home Fund, but those funds will be earmarked specifically for those impacted by the virus.
To donate, write a check to the Peninsula Home Fund and mail to: Peninsula Home Fund, Peninsula Daily News, P.O. Box 1330, Port Angeles, WA 98362. Also, checks and coupons can be dropped though the mail slot at the office at 305 W. First St., Port Angeles.
You can also contribute online with a credit card at www.olycap.org, where a “donate to COVID-19 Relief Fund” button will direct you to the form that was for the 2019 Peninsula Home Fund. Every penny will go to OlyCAP, which will use 10 percent to help pay for services. Your contributions are federally tax-deductible.
(To apply for a Peninsula Home Fund grant, contact an OlyCAP office. Clallam County residents can call 360-452-4726, and Jefferson County residents can call 360-385-2571.
The United Way also has established the Clallam COVID-19 Response Fund, to help minimize the financial impact of the novel coronavirus outbreak.
All donations will be used to support local nonprofits who are focused on health and human service needs in the community.
Started with a $100,000 from United Way and the Clallam Community Foundation, the fund has seen 29 donors contribute more than $10,000.
The result is that, as of March 27, six local nonprofits have received more than $32,000 in support.
Donate and find more information at www.unitedwayclallam.org/covid-19-response-fund.
Oh, and there’s the 2020 Census. I’d be remiss if I didn’t at least mention this, one that was sure to be a headline-grabber prior to this nonstop coronavirus issue.
With the process a bit in flux with “physical distancing” complicating matters, census organizers are urging residents nationwide to complete their census forms online at 2020census.gov. Most folks should have received their notices in the mail. I did here in Sequim and it took all of six minutes to fill out, and I’m a slow reader.
Considering the amount of federal aid coming our way in the coming weeks, could there a better time to make sure we Washingtonians stand up and be counted to make sure we get everything from the full compliment of federal funding to seats in the House of Representatives to accurately-constructed boundaries of congressional and state legislative districts? Likely not. It also has that rare quality of being something of which people of all political persuasions can agree.
Expect more in our pages about the census in days to come.
Michael Dashiell is editor of the Sequim Gazette. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.