When things get scary, look for the helpers

Posted 3/25/20

Lake Okeechobee News/Danika J. Fornear The LaBelle Bridge at sunset.

There is certainly a lot of anxiety and stress these days, as we await updates from the CDC and FDOH regarding the COVID-19 …

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When things get scary, look for the helpers

Lake Okeechobee News/Danika J. Fornear
The LaBelle Bridge at sunset.

There is certainly a lot of anxiety and stress these days, as we await updates from the CDC and FDOH regarding the COVID-19 pandemic and scroll though countless stories on social media and read through the news about the lack of food and other supplies available, the greed of others who have hoarded these items, the cancellations of events and the impending pressure to further distance yourself from human contact. We are all growing more and more concerned about the economic impact, as well.

But, it isn’t all doom and gloom. Just as Fred Rogers once said, “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 tight-knit communities have come together, and there are many helpers here.

Parrish Family Chiropractic, one of our community’s bright shining lights in this somewhat dark and uncertain time, recently announced, “We want to help … If you are part of the high risk population, in regards to the coronavirus, and don’t want to take any chances in being out with the general public, we understand. Do you need someone to pick up groceries for you? Or a prescription? Well, we want to help. We recognize that some of you may not have family members local who can run these errands for you, and we take the name Parrish Family Chiropractic seriously. Let us be your family and help you if you need it. If you find yourself needing to take advantage of our offer, please contact our office at 863-675-0521.”

Individuals, like Savannah Rae Rounds and Carlene Robinson Leeper, are posting things like, “If you are elderly, have a compromised immune system, or there is ANY other reason you don’t want to go to the grocery store, please message me and I will be more than happy to pick up anything you might need and deliver it to you … Let’s all reach out to those in need,” on social media.

Belles Ice Cream Bar chimed in, as well, commenting: “We are willing to help in any way we can. If you need a place to deliver donations, we can set up an area to store them. Then perhaps some of our high school students could help deliver to our needy residents. Great time to get service hours and build character!”

Due to the schools being out until April 15, and many switching to online learning, teachers from Hendry, Glades and some in Immokalee are offering help. “While you are all homeschooling, remotely, digitally educating your kids for the next few weeks, if you need assistance with understanding something that has been assigned for your child, or if you need more resources, just give me a shout. I am a retired schoolteacher and I will be happy to answer questions as best I can.

We WILL get through this!” said Donna McAvoy. “I have taught elementary for over 20 years. Odds are if I don’t know the answer, I know someone who does! Please reach out if you need help.”

A similar offer from Kristen Horn: “Local parents! If your child needs homework help, inbox me. I’ll do what I can. Unless it’s math. I’m not doing math,” she comments, with a smiley face.

Many local restaurants are working hard, following the governor’s mandate of 50% dine-in occupancy and space limitations, ramping up sanitation efforts and encouraging takeout orders. Many have made their menus available online and are implementing online ordering, such as Two Peas Cafe and Forrey Grill. Some are utilizing their drive-thru pick-up window services like Bridge Street Coffee & Tea Company (Charlie’s), Paleteria La Victoria, The Quart House and Log Cabin. Others are now offering delivery services, such as Grumpy’s Pizza Pub, whic recently posted on Facebook, “We have expanded our delivery area to include LaBelle, Clewiston, Port LaBelle, Pioneer, Horseshoe Acres, Indian Hills Subdivision, and all in between.”

Local churches are offering online services and prayer gatherings. Ministerio UnPaso de Fe is doing live services, and LaBelle Church of God is offering a live feed of their services on Facebook. Many places of worship are working to provide in order to keep everyone as safe and healthy as possible.

“Even though we will not be meeting in person, we can still meet by phone, by e-mail, through social media, etc. Let’s get creative in our encouragement and support of each other! I am looking at several ways to encourage and uplift everyone, and Jimmy said he may even be able to record something for the youth and children! The strategies we are looking at: Streaming online services and Bible studies during their normal times on Sunday and Wednesday. Designating groups of people to check up on each other regularly, perhaps even meeting for worshiping together with the streamed services. Personally keeping in touch, particularly with our elderly and vulnerable, for the meeting of physical, spiritual and emotional needs. Putting additional content out through social media and internet channels, such as sharing in devotions, prayer times, etc. Helping us know how to connect with our neighbors and look out for any who may be particularly isolated or struggling,” wrote Pastor Dave Mullins, of Carlson Memorial United Methodist Church.

Also, United Way of Lee, Hendry, Glades and Okeechobee Counties also have a 2-1-1 helpline to provide factual and current local resources related to COVID-19. Residents can dial 2-1-1 or (239) 433-3900, to find out about and see if they qualify for local resources.

Sometimes, as the sun sets, and you have left your worries for tomorrow, it might help to remember the helpers are out there. To anyone feeling scared, hopeless, or in need of some help, please try to reach out. If you are in a position to help, please reach out to those who need it.

Who are the helpers you see in the community? Email dhopper@newszap.com.