Making a Difference in Uncertain Times

Most of us have found our lives turned upside down in recent weeks as we try to shelter in place, work from home, or care for our families. There are many ways to cope with the situation. On Facebook, I see my friends talk about cooking and baking, watching hours of streamed content, trying to teach their children, or caring for loved ones.

For some people, it’s not enough to take care of their own households and those of their families and neighbors. They’ve decided it’s important to make a difference in their communities and beyond. I’ve found a group of people from around the world who are making equipment like face masks, shields and more for healthcare workers and others who need these supplies. Some of the members are engineers or factory owners while others are hobbyists, but they are all working together to solve problems caused by this pandemic.

In the data platform community, Tim Radney (@tradney) from SQL Skills is leading the way by 3D printing ear savers. These are straps which are worn on the back of the head to relieve pressure on the ears from surgical masks. He got started after reading about cub scouts printing the devices, and soon others in the community joined in as well. At the time of this writing, Tim had received orders for 5000 of the ear savers and had mailed out about 3000. He’s inspired a bunch more people in the community to join in, including myself. Others in the community are sewing fabric face masks. There are also several free virtual events like the Data Platform Discovery Day.

While many are hurting financially and there are so many economic unknowns, some are in the position to donate money. There are many worthy relief organizations, but I was inspired by a relative who said they were donating their US stimulus check to the local food bank. Because of increasing unemployment, many more families will depend on these services, so it’s a great time to donate.

Another way to give back is by donating blood. In the US, the Red Cross is looking for donors of whole blood, plasma and platelets. The need for blood never stops, and it’s possible that plasma from recovered coronavirus patients can be used to treat current patients.

Volunteers are delivering meals for hospital staff, and the people of many communities are cheering for the heroes on the frontline of this fight every day.

People are taking care of each other in so many new ways. There’s another benefit in helping your community: it just might make you feel better, too.

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