Looking for the Helpers During COVID-19
Who are the helpers in times of the COVID-19 pandemic? Many of us are familiar with Mr. Roger’s advice to “look for the helpers” in times of chaos. In today’s special episode, we talk with people across the U.S. to explore what it looks like for all of us to not only look for the helpers — but to be the helpers — even in a global pandemic hitting very close to home.
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Who are the helpers in times of the COVID-19 pandemic? They might be closer than we think.
In today’s special episode, we talk with people across the US to explore what it looks like for all of us to not only look for the helpers, but to be the helpers—even in a global pandemic hitting very close to home.
Many of us are familiar with Mr. Roger’s admonition to “look for the helpers” in times of chaos. As life continues to change in the face of COVID-19, podcast producer Kayla Craig looks for the helpers in her own community, recording conversations along the way.
- Kayla talks with Preemptive Love grants officer Lindsey Pruett-Hornbaker about her online storytime for “little revolutionaries.”
- Dane Barnett, Preemptive Love’s student and university engagement manager, spends some self-isolation time interviewing his mom Kris, a nurse in a local hospital’s pediatric emergency department.
- We also hear from Kayla’s four young children who are now figuring out what their days look like without school. She also receives a message from her brother Nathan, who is helping keep grocery store shelves stocked during the pandemic.
And Jeremy Courtney, founder and CEO of Preemptive Love, shares an important message about why he’s cutting his salary to $0 during the COVID-19 pandemic.
You can help refugee families affected by coronavirus. Give now.
Lindsey: We don’t stop belonging to each other just because we have to be separate from each other. And we’re privileged to live in a time and place where we have the opportunity to connect in some different ways, including online.
Kayla: So much has changed in the past couple weeks around the world as we experience the growing spread of COVID-19. As we’re all trying to figure out how to live in times of physical distancing and quarantine, it’s been easy to feel overwhelmed, anxious, and afraid – for kids, and for adults.
Kayla: This quote about looking for the helpers is from Fred Rogers, who’s known to many of us who grew up watching him on TV as simply as Mr. Rogers.
Kayla: Today: We’re talking with different people across the United States to explore what it looks like for all of us to not only look for the helpers — but to be the helpers — even in a global pandemic hitting very close to home.
I’m Kayla Craig, and, as part of the Preemptive Love team, I get to help produce and edit the episodes you hear of the Love Anyway podcast.
Kayla: At Preemptive Love, we want you to know, even in this pandemic — we’re not going anywhere. And I mean that beyond the social distancing. We are committed to the people and places you help us serve around the world, including providing emergency aid in Iraq and Syria, and in Mexico and South America. As we mentioned in the last episode, this pandemic is affecting everyone, especially the most vulnerable among us.
Kayla: On today’s episode, we’re jumping in to share what life is looking like for those of us in the U.S., my life has drastically changed in the past couples week, and I’m guessing yours has, too.
I’m recording from my home in Des Moines, Iowa, and this is the Love Anyway podcast. And stay tuned, because, at the end of this episode, we have a special important message from Jeremy Courtney, Preemptive Love’s founder, and CEO.
Kayla: So, back to Mr. Rogers. Many of us remember hearing his admonition for children to “Look for the helpers” in times of chaos. And as life as I know it has continued to change in the face of COVID-19, it caused me to ask: Who ARE the helpers in my own small circle of friends and family? To start, I didn’t have to look further than my friend and team member Lindsey.
Lindsey: Welcome revolutionaries. Super glad you’re here. All right. Let’s read about family. Should we?
Kayla: As many of us received directions to self-quarantine or shelter-in-place and schools and workplaces closed, Lindsey saw that many of her friends who are parents were working full-time from home while trying to care for their kids. So she started a weekday storytime program online for kids.
Lindsey: I’m Lindsey Pruett-Hornbaker and I’m the grant officer for preemptive Love. So I get to research and write grants for funding opportunities to keep our programs going.
Kayla: I called Lindsey to ask her about storytime.
Kayla: Hey, Lindsey.
Lindsey: Hey, Kayla.
Kayla: I’m excited to talk today.
Lindsey: Yeah, me too. Thank you.
Kayla: So my kids, as you know, I have four of them. And they all have been watching your storytime. So they love it. I love it. Tell me about what you’re doing and why.
Lindsey: I love that. Thank you so much for sharing that your kids love it. So I am reading stories every weekday just for 15 or 20 minutes on Facebook Live for any kids that want to watch, and I guess any grownups that want to watch as well, but it’s also just an opportunity for parents or other important grownups who are taking care of kids to have just a 15-minute break and go get a cup of coffee and let their kids sit. And we talk a little bit about life and about our feelings and about how we’re doing because stuff is hard right now. And then we read a story together.
Kayla: What gave you the idea to start this?
Lindsey: Honestly, I am quarantined in my own house right now I am pregnant. And so I can’t get out and about very much. And that also means that I can’t teach Sunday School, which I usually do on a weekly basis. And so I don’t have a lot of communication with the outside world. But I also have a group of friends who are moms who usually work full time out of the house and right now are in the house, also working full time with young kids around and we’re just having about how they do love having their kids around, but it’s just really challenging right now to try to navigate that new work atmosphere. And they could just really use a break and I thought, you know, there’s not a lot that I can do. But something that I can do and I can do virtually is give them a little bit of a break.
And so I thought, Okay, well I have these great kids books and I’ve been calling it stories for little revolutionaries. And I thought, let’s just I’m going to take advantage of this situation and read some of these kids books that I love and talk about how kids have the opportunity to change the world. And give them some tangible things that they can do all while their parents can just take a seat and drink a cup of coffee and take a deep breath if they need to.
Kayla: So what kind of tangible tips have you kind of been offering the kids as you do these storytimes?
Lindsey: I like to start out just by talking about what our feelings are. I think it helps with some emotional regulation and it helps us ground ourselves. I think it’s really good for everyone’s mental health. And I also think You know, everybody’s getting into new routines or different routines right now. And things feel off from what they normally feel like. And so just having an opportunity to sit and breathe and think, how am I feeling what’s going on in my body and my mind and my spirit right now. It’s kind of a sneaky tip for kids to check in with themselves and recognize how they’re feeling. And then we also do something called starfish breathing, which is, again, another grounding exercise to kind of just take some deep breaths and remind the kids that they’re safe, and they’re loved, and they’re important and that they’re welcome and our storytime space. Again, because things are just different and weird right now, I think for a lot of kids who are stuck at home and don’t have other kids to play with and are trying to also navigate their parents work lives while they’re at home, trying to do school or trying to play.
So those are a couple things that I do and then I have a So just been kind of offering tips alongside the books that we’re reading on things that they can do to you and make the world a better place, I think right now can be really confusing for kids, because it’s a lot of like big grown-up issues that need to be fixed right now. And they don’t have a lot of control over it. So reminding them that they do have control over the way that they treat themselves and treat the people around them is really important and gives them something that they can do to make, you know, things feel a little bit better right now, but also just good life lessons. So thinking about what can they do to be kind to their own bodies and to themselves? And what’s been what can they do to change the world with the magic that they have inside of them? What are things that they have that are strengths that they can use to help the people around them to feel better? Those kinds of things are things that we’ve been talking about.
Kayla: Hmm, that’s so good. I mean, I’ve been learning right alongside you. And I was talking to my husband and we were talking about how you said, Let’s check in with your feelings. How are you feeling? And we were both like, Oh, yeah, how are we feeling? Yeah, right. This is a hard time. And sometimes we just get into the zone of the next thing, and we forget to as adults to check in with our bodies. So I’ve appreciated that. And I appreciated that even in this time of social isolation, and you have figured out a way to foster community and give what you can give using your talents and your creativity. So thank you for that.
Lindsey: You know, we don’t stop belonging to each other just because we have to be separate from each other. And we’re privileged to live in a time and place where we have the opportunity to connect in some different ways, including online, so..
Kayla: So we’ve been kind of thinking about this idea, like Mr. Rogers said, look for the helpers. And in some ways you are a helper, you’re reaching kids and families, even in a time where you can’t leave. But also, in some ways, you have experienced receiving help being on the other end. And I’m just wondering if you could talk a little bit about how, especially in these times of the coronavirus in this global pandemic, if it’s okay to receive help if you need it.
Lindsey: Oh, my goodness, so much. We have this dynamic kind of setup in our society where, you know, we think about helpers, and we think about people being helped. And we don’t necessarily think of those people as being the same people. But I truly believe that, you know, in order to be helpers, we also have to be helped. We have to be open to both of those things to being able to help in the places that we can But also being willing to accept help where we need it. Like I said, I am pregnant right now. So I can’t even go out and get my own groceries. So my wife goes out and gets groceries for us every week. And yeah, just checks in on me and make sure that my mental health is doing okay. And I have a great group of friends that we connect with each other all day long just to say, Hey, how are you doing? And I had a friend who reached out last week and said, I cannot be isolated like this anymore. I need you to check in with me via video chat every day. And she’s a kindergarten teacher. She’s very accustomed to being the helper and the teacher. But she had to say, this is what I need. And that was really brave of her. And actually, that’s kind of what got me started thinking like, we all do need help, right? Like, again, it’s not an either-or am I a helper or am I being helped? I think part of being an effective helper and part of just being effective at human rights. Now is being able to recognize that we need help and when we need help and being able to accept it, because that’s we truly need that in order to be stronger as people and stronger as a community. We can’t do it alone.
Kayla: So good, Lindsey, I’m so glad I get to work with you.
Lindsey: It’s a really tough time for everybody. And I say this to the kids when I talk to them. But I also want to say this to all the adults that are listening like this is a time when we just need to be really gentle with ourselves and with the people around us. And sometimes that’s all that you know, that’s all the extra that we can do for a day is just be gentle. And I recognize that I’m coming from a place of relative privilege saying this, you know, I get to work from home and I don’t have small kids running around. So if I need to take a break, I can take a break. And I know that that’s not the case for everybody. But I do think everybody has the capacity to just take a deep breath every once in a while and ask, you know, am I being gentle with myself right now? And am I being gentle with the people around me because this is really hard. There’s no other way to state it. You know, it’s just a hard time and it’s okay to feel big feelings right now. It’s okay to feel stressed out. But again, it’s also okay to reach out and ask for help. And it’s more than okay to practice some gentleness with their own minds and bodies and spirits.
Kayla: As I mentioned to Lindsey, I’m a mom of four young kids. My husband and I are privileged to be able to work from home, but as many parents around the world are experiencing, it can be challenging to work and try to teach your kids, too. My kids range in age from 4 to 9 years old. In the midst of a workday, with kids running around, I pulled out my recorder to ask my kids how things were going.
Kayla: Okay, say your name and how old you are.
Asher: I am Asher and I’m six years old.
Kayla: And when do you turn seven?
Asher: In six more days?
Kayla: Six more days? And is your birthday gonna be a little different this year?
Kayla: Why is it gonna be different?
Asher The coronavirus.
Kayla: Yeah. What were we gonna do for your birthday party?
Asher: Go to Chuck E Cheese.
Kayla: Yeah. Is that something we can do anymore?
Kayla: How come?
Asher: Cause the coronavirus.
Kayla Craig: So what does that mean “the coronavirus?”
Asher: So like it gets people sick?
Kayla Craig: Yeah, yeah. So in our family, who do we need to be extra careful that we make sure that they don’t get sick?
Asher: Joseph and Eliza.
Kayla Craig: Yeah. So tell me about Joseph.
Asher: He has sickle cell. Yeah, yeah. And what about Eliza?
Asher: She has special needs.
Kayla Craig: Yeah. So what are ways that we’re keeping each other healthy and safe?
Asher: Um, by eating good food and buying lots of food and being healthy?
Kayla Craig: Yeah. So like washing our hands. Yeah. And are we going to um like the library and to school right now?
Kayla Craig: No. So we’re staying home, right?
Kayla: So we’ve done some school stuff at home.
Kayla: Like what?
Asher: Um like…engineering.
Kayla: So what did engineering look like?
Asher: Like so Legos and we builded stuff. Yeah, I built a car.
Kayla: That car was really cool. Thanks. What was the coolest part about the car?
Asher: Um, had three wheels and that went really fast.
Kayla: Yeah, it did go really fast when we tested it out. So, Mr. Rogers says, look for the helpers when things are kind of scary.
Asher: Who’s Mr. Rogers?
Kayla Craig: You know Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood? So that came from a show that Mr. Rogers used to have when I was a little kid, and even when grandma and pop-pop were little kids, yeah. So who are helpers that you can think of when things are kind of weird or scary?
Asher: Ummm…Grandma, Dad
Kayla: How are they helpers to you?
Asher: Cuz they help me. Cause gramma lets us frost cookies, and she’s really nice and dad helped me with my Lego creations.
Kayla: Yeah, that’s really cool. I think helpers can be anyone that you know, right? So sometimes helpers are like doctors, are police officers or people that are stocking like the grocery store like uncle Nathan. And sometimes helpers can just be our family members and how we take care of each other and love each other. How can you be a helper?
Asher: By um washing my hands, helping other people be safe and give them healthy food?
Kayla: I like that. I love you. Yeah. Okay, you can go play.
Kayla: Abram, how old are you?
Kayla: Are you gonna be four soon?
Abram: Cause it’s your birthday tomorrow night.
Kayla: It’s not my birthday tomorrow night, you silly goose.
Kayla: When when we just listened to storytime with Miss Lindsey.
Abram: She’s the cutest mom in the world.
Kayla: That she talked about heroes. Who are your heroes? What did you just do? Did you just point at me?
Abram: You’re my hero.
Kayla: Oh, I love you, buddy. Are we having lots of family time right now?
Abram: You’re the best mom in the world.
Kayla: Oh, thank you, Abram. I love you very much. I’m proud of you.
Joseph: Can I be on the podcast?
Kayla: Hey, Joe. What’s up?
Joseph: I’m Joseph Craig. And I’m nine and maybe three quarters. I’m not nine and a half now.
Kayla: When we are talking about coronavirus, if you hear mom and dad talking or you hear something on the news, how does that make you feel?
Joseph: It makes me feel scared but you told me we’re safe.
Joseph: If you’re sick, you should stay home you don’t want germs spreading all ll over.
Kayla: When Mr. Rogers talked about looking for the helpers, he was talking about how, when he was a child, his mother pointed to adults who were helping in crisis situations. People like emergency personnel, firefighters, police officers, and health care workers. My teammate Dane Barnett is the student and university engagement manager here at Preemptive Love. After traveling, he’s now home and currently in self-quarantine. He lives with his mom, who is a nurse on the frontlines in a pediatric emergency department here in the US. He recorded a conversation with her, from their kitchen table, to share with you.
Dane: Okay, so I’m sitting here with my mom, and she just got home from work.
Kris: My name is Kris Barnett. I am a registered nurse and a level one trauma center emergency room, which I’ve been in for three years, but prior to that I worked at the same hospital for since 1998. In always a nursing role, but I was in a congenital heart center, pediatric ICU prior to moving to the emergency room.
Dane: Okay, and in your well 21 years of nursing experience. Have you ever seen anything like this?
Kris: No, I never, never have seen anything like this. The closest thing that I saw to it was in 2009, when we had h1n1. But it wasn’t in national pandemic like this is. I mean, we had to bring in additional resources and that type of thing, but not I don’t feel it’s going to be as catastrophic as it was not as catastrophic as this will be.
Dane: How does it feel different at the hospital this time than?
Kris: Yes, it does feel different. I mean, just for instance, today we put a tent on our driveway to care for patients when the hospital is full, and we’re trying to keep non-critically respiratorily sick patients away from the patients that are there for other reasons, whether it’s just surgical or just minor injuries so that we can keep them separated.
Dane: Is that because there’s not enough beds in the hospital or is it another precaution?
Kris: No, no, the bed situation I feel will get very tight. But this is just a way to be able to designate an area for people that are clean and not infected with the virus and keep them away from anybody that has any respiratory symptoms.
Dane: So besides adding additional space in the driveway in a tent, what other preparations is the hospital taking to get ready for the influx
Kris: We’ve already put into place lots of proactive things as separating respiratory patients that are coming in now switching around the emergency room making one entrance for clean patients one entrance for a patient said or have some type of respiratory condition and we can triage them accordingly based on their symptoms and their travel.
Dane: So right now, do you feel like your hospital there’s a lack of resources? Are you running low on resources? Or is your hospital not having those same problems that other hospitals are?
Kris: No, I think that we are definitely on being very conscientious of the materials and the PPE that we’re using for patients.
Dane: What’s PPE?
Kris: Personal protective equipment, whether it be mask, goggles, face shields, gowns, gloves, respirators, all of those types of things. We’re being very cognizant of what we use them for. And we are trying to limit the amount of people that go in and out of rooms that require those things just so we don’t go through our supply as quickly
Dane: So You just kind of walked through like a typical day. So you wake up at what 5:55 and you leave the house at
Dane: Okay? And how long of a drive is it from our house to the hospital
Kris: About an hour, so I have to clock in at like five minutes to seven. Then we go to shift report, we get a layout of what’s going on, if any of the procedures have been updated overnight, due to new information that’s come from the government or whatever. And then we get our assignments, we go to our assignments, and then we care for every patient that comes through the door, whether they need surgery, whether it’s respiratory, whether they’ve been in the country, out of the country, all of those things if they’ve had an exposure if they haven’t, it just Every patient’s individual so you have to customize their treatment according to their needs, so we have to be pretty flexible when it comes to that.
Dane: So how does it feel on the floor? Does it feel anxious? Does it feel stressful? Does it feel like just a normal day?
Kris: There is a level of anxiety with everybody. Because we all know that even though this is a profession that we have chosen, every day that we go into work, we have the possibility of bringing home, this virus to our kids or our families. So I think we’re all doing an extra amount, being extra diligent when it comes to protecting ourselves while we’re there. And most, most of the nurses have quarantined their families, to limit the exposure to only being us coming home. I mean, we’re changing our clothes before we leave the hospital. We’re showering as soon as we get home, all of those kinds of things, just so that we can protect our families because we know that this is what we’ve been called to do. I because I’ve always viewed nursing as a calling and not a job. So it’s not I don’t feel like I can walk away. But I still have to protect my family. So I’m taking all the measures that I can to do that.
Dane: So yeah, so we’re quarantined here at the house. Your kids and you did walk in tonight without your scrubs on because you left them. And is there anything else that you want to say? I didn’t know how to get in the shower. Yeah,
Kris: Just for everybody to take care of themselves. Eat, drink rest as much as you possibly can. Don’t give the virus window into your life. Because if you’re rundown or anything like that, not resting well. That’s just an opening that you can become ill and the virus can take hold. So I just pray that everybody stays healthy. And that we will, of course, get through this and come out on the other side.
Dane: Right. Thanks, Mom. Yep.
Kayla: As I thought about helpers who are clearly visible in my own life, so many people came to mind. Of course, any and all health care workers, but also grocery store workers, truck drivers, factory workers, mental health and social workers, journalists, janitors, delivery crews, — the list goes on. My younger brother lives a couple hours away from me, and he works for a vendor that keeps grocery stores stocked. He has been told he is an essential worker. So even though he has asthma, he’s out every day, replenishing shelves. I asked him to send me a message from the road.
Nathan: All right, so I’m just leaving store number three had at the store for the day. Things have normalized a lot this week, which is nice because last week there was no chance any of us could even come close to keeping up. I think we did three times the volume of a normal week, which is just nuts considering we had no extra employees or anything. So we were stuck working long days, but this week, if anything, it’s less than normal, which hopefully means people are actually staying home. Which is good because I mean, less people out less spread and that’s what we’re looking for so and less hours in the stores for all the vendors so hopefully we’re not as at risk as long as people start actually staying home which is cool with me.
The shelves are looking more normal today.
The waters all back, the paper towels and stuff are back. Toilet paper still not, hand sanitizers, not every single customer thinks that we all should have the answers for that. But we tell them where it would be if there was any, but there is not at this point in time. I mean, just keep going I guess. We’ll see what this store has…
Kayla: We’ll just keep going. Keep looking for ways to show up for our families, and friends, and communities, finding ways to be together even when we’re apart. No matter who you are or where you find yourself, you can be a helper. You already are one.
Today, I’ve shared just a small snapshot of the helpers in my circle. Of course, there are so many more. We all have the innate ability to not only look for the helpers but be helpers — just because of who we are and where we are.
As my son Asher mentioned earlier in the episode, two of my kids have compromised immune systems. They’re more likely to have critical needs from COVID-19. My daughter Eliza, who is four, was on life support for about a month when she went into respiratory distress from a virus last year. Please believe me when I say: If you are able to, when you stay home, you are being a helper. Staying home and social distancing is a profound act of love for the most vulnerable. You are preventing the spread. You are flattening the curve. Saying that you’re saving lives is not an exaggeration.
ROGERS: “If you look for the helpers, you’ll know there is hope…”
Kayla: To all the helpers out there? Thank you. We’re in this together, even when we are apart.
Before we go, we want to share an important message from our CEO and founder Jeremy Courtney…
Jeremy: Hi, this is Jeremy Courtney, CEO of Preemptive Love. I’ve cut my salary to zero, because I don’t want to stop serving. And I don’t want to lay off any of our 100 plus staff. So before we retreat from the frontlines before we cut emergency food and medicine, before we kill our game, changing jobs platform and forfeit the future, I’ve cut my pay to zero, so no one else has to. And I know you’ve been hit hard, too. If I can be a friend right now. I’m here, email. Reach out. Call us via our website. I’ll listen. But if you’re doing okay, we need you. Our refugee friends need you Jess and I need you we don’t want to sell off the more beautiful world that our hearts know is possible just to survive and This team we’ve built, we can’t lose them. We are excellent in crisis, we’re nimble, and we can stretch $1 please consider giving and increasing your impact today, if you can, monthly support is massively helpful right now.
Please consider increasing your impact today. Go to preemptive love.org. And if you can, monthly support is massively helpful. You can sign up to be a monthly donor, increase the monthly amount that you’re already giving or give a one-time donation at preemptivelove.org The light is still shining and it’s us, together.
Kayla: That’s it for today. We’re @preemptivelove on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. You can visit show notes for this episode at preemptivelove.org/podcast. Thanks for listening, helpers.
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