How to Stay Busy and Useful, While Sheltering in Place During Coronavirus Quarantine

Several counties in the San Francisco
Bay Area have already announced a mandatory shelter-in-place requirement. They
said all non-essential businesses would have to be closed. Essential businesses
were defined as medical facilities, grocery stores, gas stations, and hardware

They said restaurants needed to only
serve takeout. They said it was fine to walk dogs and hike as long as we kept
social distancing. That may soon happen where some of you are living, or maybe
you are already in quarantine.

I had already been in a voluntary
quarantine for over a week as I am 67 with a cancer diagnosis. However, I know
these new directives will further restrict and isolate everyone.

Last Wednesday I woke up and wanted to
figure out how I could help others in some way – right from my home. Here are a
few of my ideas. In the comment section below, please add your suggestions.

Start with Your Own Network of Friends and Family

Begin by thinking about the people in
your life. Ask yourself a few questions:

Be a Cheer-Upper

Have you checked in with all your friends? How about a friendly hello to see how they are doing? I sent out a set of electronic cards to my children and their spouses and to my sisters and their children. They all thanked me for a friendly hello. I try to send at least one electronic card every day. Free ones are available at Blue Mountain.

Who is isolated alone and needs a call
to cheer them up? I have a friend in New York who lives alone. She was happy to
get a call. My friend decided to “meet up” with another friend (who lives
alone) on FaceTime for a shared exercise session.

Take the Heat Off for Parents Staying Home with Their Kids

Do you know anyone who has kids and
could use help with home schooling? Maybe they might be very glad to have some
distraction for their children. I used to be a teacher so this came to my mind

Imagine being cooped up all day for
days on end with kids who cannot go out. And it is not even raining. I am sure
the kids would appreciate friendly distractions, tips for what to do, and even
help with schooling. Every parent who has heard this idea says they would be
highly grateful.

I picked the son of a friend and
started today. My friend and her son were very grateful for the hour I spent
with him. We had a lot of fun researching and writing a story. The second
grader picked the theme: Cookie Cutter Sharks. I learned something new as well!

Support Friends and Family Who Have Suddenly Lost Income from
Their Livelihood

Has anyone close to you been laid off
or cannot work because they are not in an essential business? Do you know
someone who is financially at-risk? I suggest we all try to help in any way we

Huge spending bills passed in the US
that are aimed at helping people avoid financial disaster. Will this be enough?
Consider how you can help. You might help financially or by providing
work-from-home resources.

If you hire people to work for you to
clean, for example, pay them anyway. Independent contractors probably do not
have sick leave pay or access to unemployment benefits.

You can also help by discovering
opportunities they may not know about – here are a few examples: getting an
extension to pay income tax late, getting waivers for parking tickets, learning
where and how to obtain small interest-free or low-interest loans for small

Then Think of How You Can Help Other People in Need

It may seem hard to think of what you
can do from home, but here are a few ideas:

Volunteer for a “Warm Line”

I had never really heard of this form
of a hot line until I read a news article about this option being used to
support seniors who are shut-in. A warm line is a version of a hot line which
is not for crises, but for support in general.

The Institute of Aging coordinates volunteers who operate a “friendship line.” Check on the availability
of this type of volunteer work. I submitted an application, and I am waiting to
hear from them.

Consider How to Use Your Expertise and Talents

As a retired person, perhaps you have
expertise that can help others. I am a retired educator. Some educators reached
out to me, and we are working to provide collections of educational resources
to support kids. We also will be doing webinars or group calls where educators
share what they are doing.

Helping Others Always Cheers Us Up

I had a full day today working on all
these ideas. My mind was active, and I felt connected to others. Together, though
sheltering in place, we can support each other and feel joy and warmth even
across many miles during this difficult time.

Resources and Ideas to Use Now

Group Call Apps

Zoom offers
limited services at no charge for 40 minute group calls. It is a way people can
come together to talk, hold meetings, or even hold a book club. Google Hangouts is another similar app for
group calls.

Games to Play Over the Phone

Did you play 20 questions while on
family car trips? I fondly remember how we spent hours playing together. Here
are 21 games that can be played over the phone.

Free Educational Tools for Helping Children

You can find more ideas on things to do while you stay at home during coronavirus pandemic here.

What expertise do you have to help
others in this time of crisis? Can you help children via virtual connection?
What resources have you found for helping others? Please share in the comment
box below!