Ask not what your neighbors can do for you, ask what you can do for your neighbors. Isn’t that what President John F. Kennedy said way back when?
Even before the pandemic, public health experts warned of an existing epidemic—loneliness. Coronavirus and the era of social distancing it has ushered in have only exacerbated the issue. Not to mention, we’re facing high unemployment rates, limited economic opportunity and an unrelentingly divisive political climate. So what can you do?
Be a good neighbor! It’s a bedrock of thriving communities. During the time of COVID-19, that’s never been more true. Don’t underestimate how much you can impact your community and how much your community can impact you. Here’s a list of 5 easy ways to be the quarantine neighbor you’d want living next door.
Sounds obvious, right? But there’s a reason it’s first on here. It’s that important. Check in on those you know to be most vulnerable—older, immunocompromised or extremely isolated folks. A quick text means more than you think. Set reminders to stay in touch. If you have the capacity to follow through, ask what they need! Maybe you’re able to catch up on the phone or tack on a few items they request on your next grocery run.
Remember checking in? Well, it goes both ways. Your neighbors need you to check in too! Share but don’t overshare. Be discerning and make sure to provide relevant information and resources, or offer to share those extra paper towels if you’ve got a serious surplus. Maybe you heard about a local nonprofit or house of worship that’s offering rent assistance? Let your neighbors know!
Shop mom and pop
Local business owners and their employees are your neighbors too! That means it’s critical we all pitch in and support our favorite small businesses. The coffee shop down the street where you set up shop on your laptop and guzzled down free refills all day? That cute bookstore where you browsed for hours? Your go-to dive bar? That falafel joint you recommend to all your friends? They likely all need your help to stay afloat. Pro tip: When you’re ordering takeout, call and order directly through the restaurant. They’ll appreciate you leaving out the delivery service giants who take a significant cut. Help out the little guy when you can.
Be mindful of noise
This was applicable pre-quarantine, but with folks spending most of their time indoors these days, it’s doubly important now. Nobody is asking you to tiptoe around your place. Just be considerate! Try headphones on your Zoom calls. If you’re playing music or taking online exercise classes, keep the volume down. If you’re up late, be extra careful. You have no idea how much the couple downstairs working full-time with two kids doing school online needs a decent night of sleep.
What cause speaks to you in your neighborhood? Homelessness? Food insecurity? Racial justice? A struggling local business you want to support? Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty. Then, wash and sanitize of course. But the point is: Do what you can. If you can volunteer in-person, do it. If you’re not comfortable, donate. If you don’t have the means to support causes financially, just help get the word out!
Oren is a writer who loves good books, good coffee and good people. He lives in Los Angeles with his husky pup Harrison Ford.