We've practically been conditioned to think of the famous Mr. Rogers quote about "the helpers" while experiencing a crisis—something hideous and horrible happening around us—like a natural disaster, mass shooting or terrorist attack.
Now it comes to mind during this pandemic: "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.'"
Our modern-day faux-Mr. Rogers, Tom Hanks, referenced it over the weekend. After he and his wife Rita Wilson shared that they tested positive for coronavirus in Australia last week, he tweeted: "Thanks to the Helpers. Let's take care of ourselves and each other. Hanx".
I know when Mr. Rogers said this, he meant it for toddlers during scary times—but his words provide comfort for many adults, too. Looking for the heroes, searching for any bit of positivity, can help us feel better—like someone is in control in a world that often feels out of control.
So to the helpers: Thank you. From the bottom of our hearts.
To the medical and health care workers navigating unchartered waters, who I am sure are overwhelmed as they put their health and lives at risk in order to make sure others are well cared for—thank you for your dedication, your utter selflessness and your skill.
To the researchers working tirelessly on a coronavirus vaccine—thank you for your efficiency, your knowledge, your determination.
To the first responders preparing for the unknown, whose jobs never stop, who are collecting supplies where they can, being resourceful where they need to be—thank you for your bravery and strength.
To the grocery store employees stocking shelves, working the chaotic checkout lines and watching the hysteria in real-time—thank you for your hard work, your calm demeanors, your smile as we pay for our things.
To the community leaders putting together plans to get meals to students who depend on food from school, the ones handing out free hand sanitizers and masks to the elderly, the ones creating Facebook groups to connect people to others who need help and to keep us informed about what's going on locally—thank you for taking initiative. For taking action when we needed it.
To the Amazon Prime, Instacart, Whole Foods delivery workers, to our local mail carriers—thank you for your supremely helpful services. It's scary to think about running out of food or medicine or wanting to order supplies and not being able to. Thank you for allowing us the ability to, from the comfort of our homes.
To the nursing home staff workers who are protecting some of the most important citizens of our country—thank you for caring for our parents, grandparents and our children's great grandparents. I can only imagine the anxiety some of these folks might be feeling, including my own grandfather. Thank you for being there for them, when we cannot be.
To the principals and teachers communicating with nervous parents, who created packets and systems for us to use at home during school closures, who are emailing us ideas and initiating a sense of community virtually—thank you. We know you're unsure and nervous, too. The time and effort you're taking to make sure we're all prepared are appreciated and valued more than you know.
To the people running free virtual sobriety support meetings, the educational companies offering free memberships to parents navigating schooling their children at home, the museums giving us free virtual access, the fitness companies providing free trials or discounted virtual memberships, understanding employers giving home office setup stipends, the restaurants now delivering, the bloggers or homeschoolers helping to ease intimidated parents' worries with many activities ideas and scheduling ideas—thank you for your compassion, your thoughtfulness, your ingenuity. We're "going" to the Cincinnati Zoo today at 3 pm because of it!
To the grandparents who—in a lot of scenarios—are the caregivers for our children while we work. Thank you for offering to come watch the kids even with what is going on—but don't. We need to protect you. Stay home, and stay safe. Thank you for the virtual book party offer (we're scheduling you in!), for the many FaceTime calls, the support and encouragement. Just as in non-pandemic times, we couldn't do this without you.
To our local government officials providing updated guidance and support during these confusing and completely foreign times. Thank you for allowing us the ability to look to you with confidence, knowing you're looking out for us, your constituents.
To the viral, feel-good stories keeping us afloat—like reading about Steph and Ayesha Curry donating 1 million meals to children who rely on the education system to eat or the woman who bought groceries for the frightened elderly couple calling out to her from their car. To the beautiful singing citizens of Siena, Italy whose video brought us to tears—thank you for restoring our faith in humanity.
To our friends and family members staying connected through calls, texts, FaceTimes—thank you for checking in, for letting us vent, for listening to our worries. Thank you for inviting us to those helpful Facebook groups, for sending us links to boredom-busting ideas for our kids. Just knowing we're there for each other provides a much-needed sense of safety. Even though we must socially distance ourselves, we don't have to be emotionally distant.
And honestly? To whoever is taking care of our faux-Mr. Rogers, Tom Hanks and his incredible wife Rita Wilson—thank you for protecting two national treasures. We need them.
We need you all, all the helpers. You are changing the world in real-time. You are lifesavers and heroes.
And now it's our turn to help the helpers.
We can do that by staying home. Let's band together and give our medical workforce a fighting chance against this. Let's protect the elderly and immunocompromised. Let's limit the spread.
Let's stay home, together.
Let's all be helpers in any way we can be.