NELDON: ‘Look for the helpers’

Published 8:52 am Saturday, March 21, 2020

“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.’” — Mr. Rogers

As we have reported scary news this week, we have also followed Mr. Rogers’ mother’s advice and looked for the helpers. We have not had to look far.

In the most difficult and polarizing times, people come together. We have experienced this on a national level through tragedies like Sept. 11 and mass shootings, and on the local level during catastrophic events such as the flood of 2018.

After witnessing the generosity of our community time and time again, I have not been surprised to see people step up and out to help others — but I have been moved to see just how many have done so.

Through rapid change and rampant fear in our community, we have shared stories that warmed my heart.

Stories of businesses already suffering to make ends meet but donating food to healthcare workers and elderly anyway.

Stories of school employees risking their health to be sure children are fed.

Stories of fitness instructors offering virtual workout sessions for free, in spite of their businesses being forced to close.

Stories of people standing out in the rain, purchasing lunch from a food truck to support a restaurant forced to serve to-go meals only.

Someone told me this week, “I hope you are sharing the good news that is coming from this,” and I had to laugh. As scary and difficult as the coronavirus social distancing mandates are, I have smiled more than I have worried this week. Whenever fear has begun to creep in with the more sobering news, I have followed Mr. Rogers’ mother’s advice and looked for the helpers.

As I flipped through the pages of our newspaper or scrolled through our website, I remembered that although we cannot physically be together, our communities are united, and they are strong.

I keep reminding myself that when this is all over, we will have a new appreciation for so much that I have taken for granted before.

The value of human touch, hugs and handshakes.

The joy that comes from being surrounded by others in fitness classes.

The ability to borrow books from the library.

The cozy feeling that comes with enjoying dinner and a cold beverage at your favorite restaurant.

The enormous hearts and patience of your educators.

The bravery of medical personnel.

And apparently, having toilet paper readily available?

With weeks of social distancing ahead, we are bound to get restless. Cabin fever will kick in and we will be tempted by fear, but if we continue to look for the helpers, we can get through this all together.

In fact, we may all be better for it.