Times are hard. We’re all feeling the effects of this global pandemic in a myriad of ways, and as the days stretch into months, and the months continue to roll by– we’re still here. Still living our lives, though differently than before. Still working. Still raising our families. Still buying homes, and nurturing house plants, and trying to feel connections however we can. But the one thing that makes this period in time more bearable is community. Support. Togetherness. We’re in this together, and there is such power in that.

For some of us, it may be difficult to find ways to give back, to support our Chattanooga community, and to feel like we’re doing something that makes a difference somehow. Our team at Riverworks cares deeply about community. We hope to encourage our clients and friends to seek out ways to affect positive change, to bolster their local economies, and to lend a helping hand wherever possible in their own neighborhoods. As such, we’ve compiled a list of ideas, ways you can help within your community when times are good, but even more importantly– when things are hard. Community service matters.

Check On Your Neighbors

It’s easy to feel isolated because of the virus, but there are still safe ways to reach out to others and show up for them. Check on your neighbors. Everyone stands to benefit from a friendly text or video chat. Sometimes the smallest effort can make the biggest impact. Think about those who might feel extra vulnerable right now. Maybe your elderly neighbor is missing her family who can’t visit safely? You could take her a meal, or offer to cut her grass. Sometimes being a small touchstone for someone else is the thing that keeps them going. Never underestimate the power of a simple act of kindness.

Donate Blood

The Red Cross and Blood Assurance are facing concerning shortages right now because of the virus. Fewer people are donating blood, and that is putting these organizations in a tough spot. Donating blood is a small thing you can do to make a big difference in the community. Just a few minutes out of your day, and you can help locally with this critical need. You might just get a free t-shirt and a Little Debbie snack cake out of it too!

Make a Financial Donation

Money is tight for many right now, but if you’re fortunate enough to be in a good place monetarily, consider donating to local charities and organizations that are doing good work within the community, or even on a global scale. Many nonprofits have lost any semblance of their “normal” annual fundraising events. Find a cause that rings true to you, and offer your support so those important efforts can continue.

Find Ways to Donate Time

Local nonprofit organizations are feeling the impact of this pandemic more than we may know. At present, the leaders of these organizations are working around the clock, dreaming up innovative solutions that will allow them to continue their programs. Finding ways to support these local leaders during the pandemic is another thing you can do that won’t cost you anything but time. Serve on the board of a local nonprofit. Volunteer at the area food bank. Find something you’re passionate about, and roll up your sleeves. Then rest assured that your effort will make a difference.

Use Your Skills to Help Others

Sometimes finding ways to help only takes a little creativity. Are you good at something? (Okay, everyone is good at SOMETHING.) Odds are you’ve got a skill that could be used for good right now. Perhaps you can sew. Make masks to help protect yourself and others. Maybe you’re a fitness instructor or yoga guru. Teach a virtual class to help friends, family, and neighbors stay active and boost their spirits. Maybe you’re a talented web designer or a photographer. Offer your services pro bono or at a discount to help bolster the work of small local businesses. The gist is this: use your talent for good.

Shop Small

Do what you can to support local businesses by shopping small. Order takeout from your favorite local restaurants to help keep them in business. Skip Amazon for your holiday shopping and buy your gifts from local shops, markets, and makers instead. You’d be surprised and what a great impact one purchase from a small business can make for them. Make your dollars count for something.

Show Gratitude

Healthcare workers and first responders are dealing firsthand with the pandemic in ways we can only imagine. Finding ways to support these workers is paramount. You can show gratitude to these heroes by sharing your own personal message of encouragement through avenues like the Health Hero Hotline. Sometimes a simple “thank you” can go a long way. Need a boost yourself? Listen to some of the endearing messages of gratitude left by others.

Practice Self Care & Social Distancing

As the saying goes, you cannot drink from an empty cup. Prioritizing self-care is so important, especially during these times. Take time to take care of you, so you can continue to show up for others. Check in with yourself. Practice mindfulness. Try therapy. Read a great book. Eat well and exercise. Connect with friends and family virtually or from safe distances. And never be afraid to ask for help or support.

It’s easy to feel powerless in the face of this new normal, but challenges aside, you can make a difference. Our team at Riverworks hopes these ideas for supporting others inspires you, and that you go out into our community as a positive force for good. We’ll get through this.