Juggling Act: Small acts of kindness can go a long way during this crisis

Maureen Feighan
The Detroit News

The cards sit stacked on our kitchen table, brightly-colored craft paper folded neatly in half now dotted with paper flowers, hearts and handprints to hopefully brighten someone’s day during these challenging times.

Every day, I jump on Pinterest one more time, looking for ideas for another card. There’s one card my son drew with Uncle Sam and another with a T-Rex. At least 3 cards have my daughter’s messy handprint. They aren’t fancy; just a simple way to say “You’re not alone.” The distraction is welcome. 

My hope is to give my family's handcrafted cards to a local nursing home in Oakland County – one of the hardest hit counties by COVID-19 – where our neighbor works. Like most nursing homes, visitors have been barred for weeks. A card isn’t much but it’s something.

Small acts of kindness -- like handmade cards -- can go a long way during this crisis.

Across Metro Detroit, people are doing small acts of kindnesses during these incredibly difficult times. With so much uncertainty, there’s something reassuring about setting aside our own anxiety and thinking of others.

One local woman and her family left a note and a granola bar in their mailbox for their mail carrier, a small thank you.

Sometimes it’s as simple as a phone call. Some Metro Detroiters say they are making more of an effort to regularly call people who might feel isolated and alone during these uncertain times.

Sisters Niesha and Ashley Lee of Inspiring Hair in Detroit have started donating free buckets of cleaning supplies to those in need. Using donations from others, they’ve already given away about 20 buckets filled with sponges, cleaning products and other items. And they plan to give out more.

There’s a “need in our community so we wanted to give back as much and as far as we could,” said Niesha. “We've given out in Grand Rapids, Detroit and the Ferris State community. We know it is hard for at-risk people to get supplies because of the shortages.”

It’s funny – as if anything about this terrifying virus could be funny – that it took a worldwide pandemic for us to slow down as a society and make time for one another. Time is all we have right now. 

When Goldner Walsh Garden & Home in Pontiac was forced to temporarily shut down after Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s order in March, they made the best of the cut flowers they had in stock at their flower shop. They put together floral arrangements and donated them. On their Facebook account, they called it “Random Acts of Flowers.”

“Since we were required to temporarily close the flower shop we decided to donate 80 mixed floral vases to local nursing and assisted living facilities to cheer up the residence shut out from visitors,” said the nursery on its Facebook account in late March.

Pema Chodron is an American nun turned Buddhist who has written several books about living during chaotic times, including “When Things Fall Apart” and “Comfortable with Uncertainty.” There’s a lesson to be learned to be living in the moment, not looking to the future, Chodron said in conversation with activist and writer Bell Hooks.

“The source of all wakefulness, the source of all kindness and compassion, the source of all wisdom, is in each second of time,” said Chodron. “Anything that has us looking ahead is missing the point.”

So let’s dig deep to be kind during these hard times. It can be as simple as a granola bar, a note or a handcrafted card. No matter what it is, the thought is the same: we’re not alone in this fight.