Saturday, 11 April 2020
Kindness and the Coronavirus
The sign above has been posted at the entrance to the Mill Race Trail in St. Jacobs, and I suspect that there are similar signs throughout our region, and not only at trails, but at other public walking spaces, anywhere in fact where large numbers of people are prone to gather.
Our world has changed in a hurry! Activities that we routinely did, without a moment's thought, now involve decisions about the risk to ourselves and to others. This accursed virus has permeated the very fabric of our lives and affects almost everything we do in one form or another.
But we need to get out. We need to buy food, and for some of us fresh air and exercise is almost as vital as breathing. Under present conditions, however, we need to take precautions and do our best to safeguard the common good.
Swirling into the controversy surrounding the shortage of masks and PPE for physicians, nurses and other front line medical professionals is the debate about homemade masks, and whether or not they are effective in helping to slow or prevent the spread of COVID-19. While recognizing that they are not up to hospital standards, there has been a slow recognition that it is helpful to have everyone wear a mask (and many authorities are now recommending this practice), if not to prevent you getting the virus yourself, but to materially assist in not passing on infection to others. Moreover, when I wear my mask, which I do every time I am exposed to other people, there is a certain mental component in believing that one is being proactive, and that too is helpful I think. Attitude counts.
I have to say, biased though I may be, Miriam has truly become a warrior
in this fight against COVID-19.
Having initially made masks for us, she decided that she would offer them at no charge to family, friends, and even their family and friends. She has now made and donated well over one hundred fifty masks, and there are more to come.
So, not only has she willingly made masks for anyone who asked for one, she has been able to customize them in many instances. For example one friend of ours is a keen golfer, so when he picked up his mask yesterday it was made in a golf motif. If Miriam has appropriate fabric on hand, she tries to make the mask reflect the lifestyle of the recipient.
Sometimes she does not know the person who will be using the mask, but all are tasteful, and even artistic in their own way.
They are well designed, rugged, and universally have been well received by all who have taken advantage of her kind offer.
When people have offered to pay her she has declined to take their money and suggested that they pay it forward. Someone even asked her if she could make a mask for a toddler; she has already done this and is waiting to hear if the size is right.
A problem she had at one point was that she ran out of elastic, and of course the stores are all closed so there is nowhere to buy more. She launched a Facebook request for people to search to see whether they have any and the response has been terrific. A good friend even found elastic much wider than Miriam needs for the masks, but she was able to cut it into strips that worked perfectly.
I think that all of this illustrates that a crisis, an emergency, a common threat, can serve to activate what makes a community a community. I could say that the best in Miriam was revealed, but truly this action has been entirely in keeping with her character. She has just channeled her energies where it was needed most.
I make no apologies for being proud of what she has done. It could serve as an example for all of us. Perhaps there is some good in this pandemic after all.