The district says thank you to the volunteers who helped during the pandemic.
COVID-19 hit DC resident Wanda Newman hard – not the coronavirus itself, but the effects of isolation and living in a frightened society.
“Honestly, it was not good for my mental or physical health,” Newman said Wednesday morning during an event to thank those who have volunteered during the pandemic. “I’m a senior, there’s no one home with me as a partner, and I decided I was going out.”
Newman stopped at Capitol Hill Safeway on 14th Street SE as the district thanked volunteers.
“I think they went up in unprecedented ways at unprecedented times,” said Alexis Squire, director of Serve DC The mayor’s office for volunteering and partnership.
Since the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020, the district has been asking for help from volunteers. Squire thanked volunteers, including Newman, who was one of those who volunteered during the holidays: “To help us assemble our PCR test kits, which were distributed throughout the city.”
“They really understand and value the community and want our community to feel safe,” Squire said. “They care about their neighbors, and especially their health and well-being.”
She thanked Safeway for hosting the event: “It helps when companies get involved.”
Newman, holding a cupcake and three flowers in his hand as a sign of gratitude, was happy to help, even in the early stages, as families bent down without knowing how COVID-19 could spread.
“Being in your house and breathing in the inner air over and over again was not healthy either,” Newman said. “We have to keep living, and we can not live in a bubble.”
Now that the number of cases is declining, Newman said she is noticing a shift in the public eye from fear to perseverance.
“None of us thought it would continue that long,” Newman said. “There are people who were not vaccinated who are now being vaccinated. I think a lot of people are tired of isolation.”
Squire said it requires a special person to volunteer. “They appeared to us when we needed them most and when our society needed them most.”
To anticipate emergencies beyond COVID, the district’s Community Emergency Response Team – or CERT – enrolled people willing to help during a still unforeseen crisis and others opportunities for volunteers.
Newman is on standby.
“If I can make a small difference, I’m making a huge difference in society at large,” she said.