I moved out of my residential commons on Sunday April 19, 2020. As I took each decoration off the wall, a little part of my heart broke. I was reminded of all the great memories I created in Armstrong Commons, and it hurt to leave them all behind. COVID-19 stole a great portion of my sophomore year of college; what was supposed to be one of the best years of my life. When SMU students were asked to leave, we weren’t sure when or if we would come back for the semester. One day everything is normal, and the next I am stripped of my friends, my sense of normalcy, my internship, and part of my university experience as I leave my college life behind with no idea when life might return to normal. Now I wake up every morning and sit down at my make-shift desk and work all day with hopes of returning back to SMU for the fall.
While my story might sound sad, I have discovered that others are experiencing much worse situations. Around the world people are fighting homelessness, hunger, abuse, poverty due to furloughs and lay offs, mental illness, and many other consequences of COVID-19. While I wake up at a comfortable 8:30 am, others are already at their jobs knowing that if they don’t show up, they won’t be paid. While I complain about the coursework I have to complete, health care professionals, first responders, and other essential service employees serve our world, allowing us to quarantine within the comfort of our homes. While I whine about the boredom of social distancing, others have no choice but to risk their livelihood in the face of COVID-19. Many citizens won’t make rent next month, feed their families, or be able to afford health care in the event that they become sick. Right now, humans need to step up and show kindness, compassion, and love more than ever.
I understand that everyone is facing their own battles right now, but the next time you go to Facebook to complain about how you are bored at home, how your Amazon package is taking ages to arrive, how your kids can’t seem to settle down, and how this time should be filled with productivity and innovation, remember that others don’t have the luxury of social distancing in the comfort of their homes. A stocked pantry, full refrigerator, Netflix account, and a home to quarantine in is a privilege today. There are parents at home heartbroken because they cannot provide for their stir-crazy children, medical professionals go to work and risk their lives as PPE runs low in hospitals, and young teenagers work shift after shift at their minimum-wage jobs to serve their community. While hearing people sing from their balconies and watching the next famous innovators emerge from quarantine is a beautiful phenomenon to experience, remember that COVID-19 is not to be romanticized; not everyone can afford to take it easy at the moment. Right now is the time to step up as humans and put our hearts and minds together to create a gentler future full of love, kindness, and compassion.
Below, I have listed some of the greatest acts of kindness and compassion I have personally witnessed during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- My father works for the City of Dallas in the Parks and Recreation department and is doing all he can to protect his employees from lay offs and furloughs. Him and his coworkers are brainstorming creative ideas to create new responsibilities and tasks for their employees that may be out of their professional realm. Leaders are facing more ethical dilemmas now than they ever could have dreamed of, and I am proud of my dad for the steps he is taking to help others in these trying times.
- My local church c|Life has been gathering food item donations for local food banks to help those facing hunger right now. So far, more than 3000 pounds of food. Along with their efforts to help those in need, c|Life also partnered with Carter BloodCare to host a blood drive at its Sunnyvale and Rockwall campuses.
- SMU in conjunction with Blue Cross Blue Shield worked to establish the coordination of benefits for health care related to COVID-19. Under this plan, COVID-19 testing will be covered 100% when medically necessary and consistent with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance regardless of the SMU medical plan employees and their families enrolled in. As the daughter of an SMU employee, I am so blessed to be a part of this community that never ceases to provide for its people.
- The NFL, through its Inspire Change platform and the Players Coalition, donated $3,050,000 to seven markets that have been significantly impacted by COVID-19. Recipients of the funds include health systems, individual hospitals, and non-profit organizations in Atlanta, Ga., Baltimore, Md., Chicago, Ill., Detroit, Mich., Florida, Louisiana, and Washington, D.C.
- Olympic athletes around the world are coming out of retirement but not in sporting events. Read how athletes have successfully combined medical studies or nursing with their sporting careers, or have switched to health work after retirement are leading the fight against COVID-19.
- My sister Emmalee, a third-grade student at Nola K. Wilson Elementary school in Crandall walked around our neighborhood and distributed goodie bags full of candy and snacks to health care professionals, grocery store employees, teachers, school administration, cafeteria employees, first responders, and other essential service employees who live in our community.
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Beautifully said Rylee. You will return to SMU (soon we hope) and get back to your happy place!