In light of current events, now more than ever, it’s up to us to be good neighbors. Fortunately, there are ways that you can support your community while also adhering to the health and safety guidelines that will help us combat the spread of COVID-19, A.K.A. coronavirus, in the spring of 2020. With that in mind, use these 10 ideas and guidelines to be the best neighbor you can be:
- Write a hello letter that mentions ways you can help. A very easy way to say hello to your neighbors right now is to share handwritten notes or emails. Include your name and a message that people can call or text you if they want to connect or need help. If there are specific tasks you’re willing and able to do – such as walking the dog, making pharmacy runs, or even sharing an excess of supplies if you have them – consider including those as well. Need a helping hand to start this process? Consider using this form letter and distributing it in your area!
- Get phone numbers for your neighbors – and use them to check in. If you don’t already have direct contact information for some or all of your neighbors, now is the time to obtain it. Phone numbers will ensure that your immediate circle of neighbors can communicate quickly on a day-to-day basis. You can also use those numbers to talk on the phone on a regular basis, keeping your immediate community company.
- Use digital groups, too. While phone numbers are necessary in case of an urgent need or even an emergency, digital tools still have their place! Facebook groups or Messenger threads are both examples of ways you and your neighbors can stay in touch online. You can also use a Google Sheet or Slack room to keep track of people’s names, phone numbers, addresses, and even shopping needs.
- Wave hello. Social distancing doesn’t mean “devoid of connection.” While walking to our neighbors’ doors and knocking isn’t advisable, we can still wave hello from our porches. It’s a small thing that can make a big difference in how we feel about the day ahead!
- Offer your tech assistance to your neighbors. Right now, many tasks and errands are being completed online. That’s great for younger individuals, who are used to ordering groceries and takeout on their phones, but your older neighbors may not be as experienced in using apps and websites. With that in mind, offering to help someone navigate a website or to handle certain tasks online could make a big difference!
- Deliver groceries and necessities. Some people are now avoiding public spaces due to health concerns, while others are struggling to even reach stores before supplies run out. So offering to bring your neighbors groceries and home goods is one of the most helpful things you can do. You should only do this, however, if you are healthy; if, during the last two weeks, you have not come into contact with someone who has displayed symptoms; and if you are comfortable doing so. During these runs, you should leave children at home if possible; wash your hands before going to the store; wipe down carts before using them; and wash your hands again when you leave the store. Always wash your hands before dropping off the groceries, as well!
- When running or walking pets, stay at least six feet away. Pets need exercise, and so do you! When you do go outside, however, remember to adhere to social distancing practices. Maintain a distance of six feet between you and anyone else enjoying the fresh air.
- Keep your noise levels respectful. Chances are that you’ve seen videos of our international neighbors playing instruments from their balconies. We’re not saying you shouldn’t play music, but we are saying that if you do, you should be respectful of the time you do it. Remember that many people are currently working from home, and we all need to sleep sometime!
- Freshen up your visible spaces for all to enjoy. Our homes and their appearance play a big role in how we feel. If you have the energy for it, consider taking some time to freshen up your home, especially the areas that your neighbors can see. Working in your garden can create a beautiful space and also get you outside. Seasonal decorations are another great way to lift your community’s spirits, and they don’t even have to be timely! Whether you decorate for spring or for “Christmas in March,” now is the time to build a space that makes your neighborhood smile.
- Ask your neighbors what they, personally, are most worried about. While we all have similar concerns right now, we all have individual concerns, as well. Some people are most concerned about their personal health due to preexisting issues. Others are worried about relatives in another state, and still others are worried about missing work and losing wages. Knowing these concerns, if you’re comfortable asking about them, will help you better communicate with, support, and assist your neighbors.
These 10 tips and actions are all examples of how you can make a difference in your local area. While we must all adhere to health and safety guidelines at all times now, we can also be good neighbors who help our communities in these stressful times. We hope these ideas make a difference in your area, and wish you health and happiness in the coming weeks!