Wednesday, April 15, 2020

The Most Good

Early on in my stay at home quarantine existence I realized how lucky I was compared to others in our community. I didn’t have to work, I had a little money in the bank, and I had a safe place to live and a secure family unit to “hunker down” with. At that point I decided that I would give a little bit of money each day to causes focused on helping others through this crisis.

One of those causes is Columbia Community Care. Founded by Wilde Lake High School teacher Erika Strauss Chavarria, the group sprang up almost immediately with a goal to support vulnerable families by providing food and other essential supplies in conjunction with the Howard County Schools Grab & Go meal sites.

What started with Ms. Chavarria’s ideas and determination has grown into an ever-growing team of volunteers who do everything from donating groceries, ordering from the group's Amazon Wish List, working the tables at school sites to assist families, doing porch pick ups of other people's donations, even shopping and delivering individual families’ lists.

Along the way members have assisted with translating skills when needed, and encouraged families to fill out the HCPSS technology survey so their children could take part in distance learning. Their watchword appears to be: if we can help, we will.

For a group that did not even exist before this crisis, Columbia Community Care has already earned a well-deserved place in the local safety net supporting local families. And they do it with profound respect for the community members they serve. There is a strong commitment to honor the trust that vulnerable families are giving when they connect with Ms. Chavarria and her team.

That’s why a respected philanthropic organization like the Women's Giving Circle has raised and matched funds to support their operation. And that’s why I’ve decided to focus my donations on them for the duration of this crisis. I don’t have a lot of money to throw around but I do know that this is where it will do the most good.

This is where you come in. I know many of my readers are already assisting this group. On the whole, my readers are the helping sort. But just in case you didn’t know, or you didn’t think you had anything to offer, let me suggest some opportunities for you.

First, you can ask to join the Columbia Community Care group on Facebook to learn more about what they are doing and how you can help. If you click on “Files” there’s quite a bit of information already organized for you by member Megan Feroli.

Have money? Donate here:

Venmo @SrChav
CashApp $SraChav

Or use their Amazon Wish List to make purchases.

But there are so many other ways to help beyond cash donations. Perhaps you can do (contactless) porch pick up of grocery donations. Perhaps you can assist at a donation site, or shop and deliver for a family. Maybe you can spread the word amongst your friends and widen the circle of giving.

There is something you can do. I guarantee it. Don’t think that what you offer is not enough: from all our small gifts a greater goal is being sustained. Think starfish, but with a lot more helpers on the beach.

There are a variety of charitable requests out there right now. It is painfully difficult to choose among them when need is so great and funds are finite. I understand that. But, for me, the mission of Columbia Community Care is where my “little bit” can be magnified and make the biggest difference.

An interesting bit of information: as a Howard County teacher, Erika Strauss Chavarria is back at work this week as she begins distance learning with her Spanish classes at Wilde Lake High School. The reality is that she never stopped working.

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